Great Speeches And A Dime Still Won’t Buy You A Cup Of Coffee — Or Much Else

Last night was President Obama’s State of the Union Speech, only a week after the upset Republican win in Massachusetts.  There was a great deal of intrigue as to how much that shocking loss for the Democrats would factor in to what the President would tell the nation and Congress, as well as how Obama would tailor his speech to his increasingly skeptical audience — polls taken in recent weeks have shown a rising number of Americans who see the country as continuing to head down the wrong path, who see the President’s health care plan as doing more harm than good, and who distrust anything and everything that comes out of Washington.  Certainly, Obama was going to be speaking to a tough crowd Wednesday night.

When it was over, if he did nothing else, the President gave a good speech last night — from someone who’s proven himself as a master orator, anything else would have been a shock.  But the problem is, what we heard from Obama last night was just words — and pretty speeches and a charismatic President (who is still holding onto a 50% approval rating despite the nation’s building anger with its government in Washington) isn’t going to get the country headed in the right direction.  What’s needed is a change in attitude and action in our Capitol — and there’s been more than enough evidence that such a change still isn’t anywhere to be seen.

At least the President acknowledged last night that, so far as the mantra of “change” that he campaigned on (and which was a large part of the winds that swept him into office), his first year in office has been a disappointment to many, both his initial supporters and his detractors.   “I campaigned on the promise of change — change we can believe in, the slogan went,” Obama said last night. “And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change — or at least, that I can deliver it.”

Of course much of the American people don’t — the last year in Washington has seen more of the same, with politicians from both sides of the aisle continuing to work to further the interests of themselves and their biggest contributors and lobbyists, while ignoring the real problems with our nation that are in dire need of attention.   The richest of those on Wall Street and the banking industry lined up to use the American public as their personal ATM, and no real changes in the way these giant institutions have been enacted to prevent a repeat of the excesses of avarice that saw our economy badly weakened.

More and more Americans find themselves at risk of spending their day in the unemployment line

Meanwhile, other businesses small and large continue to struggle in an economy that’s seen more and more Americans put out of work and tumble helplessly into debt as our economy has continued to stagnate.  Health care “reform” looks more and more like a bloated enterprise that might raise costs, still leave millions uninsured, and mostly benefit the insurance and drug companies — while aiding in ballooning our dangerously high national debt to even more obscene levels.  And one of his main promises from last night, echoing a campaign pledge — to do the work of government in the open and eschew the back room deals of the past — has been trampled into the ground from Day One, particularly in the aforementioned health care reform, where secret deals have already been made with the elements most responsible for the ballooning cost of medicine today.  Is there any wonder why people are suffering from what the President called a ‘deficit of trust’?

The biggest problem — both immediate and long-term — that the nation faces is the alarmingly high deficit we’re running, a deficit that ballooned to dangerous levels during the two terms of President Bush and has only increased — dramatically so — in the first year of the Obama presidency.  The United States simply can’t continue to write checks it can’t cover, and in that area the President seemed to acknowledge last night that changes needed to be made.  But his solutions — a proposed three-year freeze on government spending, other than in national security, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — is akin to using a measuring cup to bail out the flooded compartments on the Titanic.  This would represent next to nothing in actual savings — what needs to be done is a painful combination of cutting government spending nearly across the board and raised taxes, the former being much easier said than done (if we can’t afford it, we simply shouldn’t be funding it — but many programs that would likely be facing a trimmed budget or even the axe get their support from the majority of the Democrats on Capital Hill) and the latter a tricky proposition in a stalling economy (the best approach in this  would appear to be raised taxes on individuals making $250,000 and higher, while leaving lower incomes and businesses untouched, but this common-sense approach has continuously drawn opposition from oblivious Republicans).

The sad fact is that the current quagmires we find ourselves in are a result of the inattention, the failings, and the flat-out corruption at a federal level by representatives in both our national parties.  The old saying is that it takes two to tango, and that’s definitely true when it comes to fixing this mess — both parties are going to have to work together, make hard choices and sacrifices — and if necessary, sacrifice their own political capital and political futures to enact the measures we need to safeguard our country’s future, and with it, the futures of those who come after us.  It’s in this last regard that, all the inspiring speeches about hope and change in Washington aside, things have disappointingly stayed the same.  Time will tell if our nation’s lawmakers will finally decide to do the job we elected them to do, or if we’ll all be back here in another year, wowed by individual eloquence — but failed by our leaders as a whole.


One Response to “Great Speeches And A Dime Still Won’t Buy You A Cup Of Coffee — Or Much Else”

  1. Car Valeters Barnsley…

    […]Great Speeches And A Dime Still Won’t Buy You A Cup Of Coffee — Or Much Else « The Last Honest Man[…]…

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