My reaction was similar--disappointment at the slowness of the Iraq pull out and the decision to escalate in Afghanistan, but in general I was surprised and pleased by his unapologetic commitment to health care reform, education, and creating a real forward energy policy here. I was especially surprised by his willingness to push health care reform openly and link it to business competitiveness--I think that is exactly right but he must know he will get a tidal wave of crap on this. Saw Howard Dean on the news yesterday earlier in the day, saying that one version of the health care bill includes the option to choose Medicare among many other private plans, and that if that one passes it will be real reform but if that option is cut it will be worthless and we'll be back at it in another four or 20 years. Making Medicare an option that could be chosen would in essence kind of sneak national health care in the back door. Not everyone will choose that option, but it would make it possible to insure everyone.
I think he had to fire people up, and it looks like he did. I don't think he softened expectations of hardship, just conveyed that he does have a long range vision.
President Obama at the moment is doing a great job compared to Bush. He's really working hard and you can see it. Already he's done more in planning and action to solve our situation.
I'm not saying that Obama's plan will work 100%, but I'm not also saying that it won't either. But at least he's doing something. He's a smart man and he has a lot of smart people working for him, which makes me more confident.
There's a lot of mess that he has to clean up and it's not going to get cleaned up with a wave of a magic wand.
As for Bobby Jindal, I'm afraid he's just being used to up the image of the Republican party. I mean really, I'm glad that his folks, as an immigrant family have done well in the USA. But Jindal has nothing close to Obama.
I totally agree about the Iraq situation. But I really don't think Obama wants to leave troops in Iraq but at the moment it's the only way to stop Iraq from taking 3 steps back to what it was previously. As for Afghanistan it shouldn't be a surprise that he wanted to send more troops there. He's been saying that since his campaign.
I'm not a Democrat or a Republican but I feel better with President Obama taking the lead.
As usual, his oratory was good thanks to a speach writer and the teleprompter. There were very few Uh, Er....
Unfortunately he didn't say anything. The only detail I heard was he planned to end farm subsidies. OK, now about the contradictions.
He said he was going to eleminate all earmarks. (The same promise he made during his campaign). He then slips into future tense and says "next year there will be no earmarks". HMMM. In a few days there will be an appropriations bill on his desk to the tune of $450 billion. It is loaded with about 7000 earmarks.
Never mind that. If he can keep the "Crisis mode" mentality going, not one will notice
Next we have the ever changing taxation number. Instead of individual income limit of $250K or some other figure that was thrown out, it is now "family income" of $250K. Then there is the "top 2%". That's an awfully small number of people who expects to bear the entire cost of his programs. Sounds like the numbers don't add up.
In reality, there are a lot of families and small business with income between 250K and the income of those in the top 2%. With a repeal of Bush's tax cuts, these people will be bearing the brunt of all the new spending programs. Those with the biggest share will be business. Guess what they will do with the increased tax? Yep, the cost of everything will go up and any gains made by the 95% who have lower taxes will be moot. Hardest hit will be the poorest because a disproportional share of their income will go for staple items.
Obama just doesn't get it.
Here is analysis that shed some light on the country's tax situation:
Like Having Medicare? Then Taxes Must Rise
By DAVID LEONHARDT
Published: February 24, 2009
Toward the end of Monday’s meetings on fiscal responsibility at the White House, Senator Kent Conrad stood up and produced a little bolt of honesty. “Revenue is the thing almost nobody wants to talk about,” said Mr. Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “But I think if we’re going to be honest with each other, we’ve got to recognize that is part of a solution as well.”
Mr. Conrad’s frankness was delivered in the cryptic language of budget experts, and many people might have missed the point. So allow me to translate:
Your taxes are going up.
They will probably go up in the coming decade, and the increase will be permanent. For a half-century, federal taxes have remained fairly constant relative to the size of the American economy — equal to about 18 percent of gross domestic product. But the 18 percent era has to end soon.
It won’t end because President Obama is some radical tax and spender, either. It will end because of a basic economic reality.
Americans have made it clear that they want a certain kind of government, one that can field a strong military and also maintain popular programs like Medicare. Yet we are not paying nearly enough taxes to maintain those programs. Even major changes to the health care system — the single most important step for closing the budget gap — will not close it entirely. Taxes must rise, too.
This is a point on which serious Democrats and serious Republicans agree, even if they do so with euphemism. “We are on an unsustainable path,” says Peter Orszag, Mr. Obama’s budget director. Judd Gregg, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, has said, “Revenues are going to have to go up.” Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Dan Crippen, budget experts who advised the McCain campaign, have quietly acknowledged the same.
Fortunately, the coming tax increase does not have to be economically ruinous. Despite all the scary stories you’ve heard, the evidence that higher taxes necessarily cripple an economy is somewhere between thin and nonexistent.
When over the past 60 years did the American economy grow fastest? The 1950s and 1960s, when the top marginal tax rate was a now-unthinkable 90 percent. And when over the past generation did the economy grow fastest? The late 1990s, when President Bill Clinton briefly took federal taxes to 20 percent of the G.D.P.
The real uncertainty is how, in the current political climate, Mr. Obama will manage to persuade people that taxes must go up. In his speech on Tuesday night, he didn’t even try. But he doesn’t have forever to do so.
Eventually, the foreign investors lending the federal government billions of dollars every week — to make up for the current gap between taxes and spending — will need a reason to believe that those loans will be repaid. Otherwise, they will begin demanding much higher interest rates. That could create a new financial crisis.
“Something that’s unsustainable, like a dysfunctional relationship, can go on longer than you expect,” Mr. Orszag has said, “and then end faster and messier than you think.”
In his new book, “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas,” Matt Miller nicely lays out the history of American taxes. He begins the story with Adolf Wagner, a 19th-century German economist who predicted that taxes would rise as societies became wealthier. The idea became known as Wagner’s Law.
“As people grew more affluent,” writes Mr. Miller, a journalist and a consultant for McKinsey & Company, “they’d want more of what only government could provide — a strong military, public order, good schools and assorted welfare benefits, services that private citizens would have trouble arranging for on their own.”
The tax increases to pay for these activities do bring a cost: they reduce people’s incentive to work. But history has shown that this cost isn’t enormous. Taxes rose sharply in the first half of the 20th century, starting from just a few percentage points of the G.D.P., and the country still prospered. So long as the government spends the money well, the benefits from taxes — security, education, health — can far outweigh the costs.
To be sure, the federal government is not currently spending its tax revenue very well. In particular, it’s wasting billions of dollars each year on health care that doesn’t make people healthier. Unless Medicare’s policies are changed, this waste will lead government spending to rise to 32 percent of the G.D.P. over the next three decades, from 20 percent in recent years.
But an overhaul of the health care system won’t be enough to bring that number down to the current level of taxes. That’s the whole point of Wagner’s Law. Over time, societies will spend more of their resources on services like medical care, since they can already afford basic material comforts. And these services are precisely the sort of service that fall to the government.
Think of it this way: A tax increase isn’t so much a barrier to a society becoming richer as it is a result of a society becoming richer.
To the extent that Mr. Obama has talked about raising taxes, he has focused on households that make at least $250,000 a year. And their taxes will certainly need to go up. In the last three decades, as the pretax income of the top 1 percent of earners has soared, their total federal tax rate has fallen to 31 percent, from 37 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
But the problem can’t be solved just by taxing the rich. That top 1 percent pays only about one-quarter of federal taxes. Once the recession ends, taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise, too.
There are many ways this could happen. Congress could pass a consumption tax, which would bring the side benefit of encouraging people to save more. Or it could raise tax rates. Or it could get rid of the various subsidies for housing, which create an incentive to overinvest in housing. (How’s that working out, by the way?)
But none of these ideas would be nearly as painless as the niceties of tax jargon sometimes imply. In the end, the ideas aren’t just about “tax simplification” or a “flatter, fairer system.” They’re about raising taxes.
So how will it happen? The best bet, I think, is a jujitsu strategy: someone will figure out how to convert weakness into strength.
We find ourselves facing long-term budget deficits largely because we don’t pay enough heed to the future. Paying less tax in 2009 is concrete. Leaving our children with a solvent government is less so.
But this same short-sightedness can be turned on itself. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan named Alan Greenspan to head a bipartisan commission charged with closing Social Security’s deficit. At the commission’s recommendation, Congress increased Social Security tax rates and raised the retirement age. The rub was that most of the changes didn’t take effect until future years. The last of them still haven’t taken effect.
Mr. Greenspan’s reputation isn’t what it used to be. But he was onto something here. Increasing tomorrow’s taxes is much easier than increasing today’s.
President Obama's speech was what the country needed as former President Clinton said after a dose of the truth about the economic crisis. President Barack Obama has been working hard for the American people and succeeded in getting an economic stimulus package passed within 30 days of his administration. He has been transparent with his governing and has honest stated that the $787 billion stimulus package may need to be modified additions. President Barack Obama understands the enormous task before him and have hit the floor running in getting his financial stimulus plans working irregardless of the chagrin of a team of rival future president-seeking Republicans..
It is unimaginable how any American can criticize a President that has over a 50% rating after passing the massive economic stimulus package that was designed to create 3.7 million jobs. At some point it may be necessary to call the commenters on their political parties so the reader knows if they are listening to a Republican or a Democrat because surely the bulk of the negative or unsupportive comments are coming from a divided political party outside of the government.
President Barack Obama was voted into the Presidency with a majority of the popular vote and Senator John McCain did not win enough electoral votes to become the President. Senator John McCain is in the Senate talking about the exorbant cost of helicopters instead of how the economy is affecting the average American family. There is no rhetoric about a family who has to feed their baby in the mountains soda from a bottle because of a lack of money to buy milk. There is no rhetoric about the number of news report about huge layoffs and unemployment because guess what; layoffs and unemployment are real problems in America. As long as government do nothing then that will continue to be the state of the country; Americans unable to properly feed their families and no jobs. Hopefully the family has a place to stay which is the purpose of the $275 housing stability plan that will be ushered into law to keep 9 million Americans in their homes.
Whether these commenters are Democrats or Republicans, President Barack Obama was voted into the White House to preside over the workings of government and that is what President Obama is doing. He is just doing his job and because of freedom of speech has to listen to the opinionated Americans who probably could not afford or did not think to give to their local girl scout cookie drive. President Barack Obama is a "smart" politician and knows how to filter out the bad comments and learn from both the bad and the good comments.
About the Indian Republican who has suddenly appeared on the Republican forefront as the spokesman of the party; I concur with another commenter who said that he is merely someone put out front in an effort to emulate a minority representative of the party. Also he may have his bid on the presidency after learning about his career moves. As President Barack Obama said in his speech before Congress, it is time to put aside political aspirations and get on with the job of remaking America.
Instead of saying critical comments about President Barack Obama, of which you have the right, it is hoped that you as Americans will do your part to become a responsible citizen of the United States of America and do your part in community service to show your legacy of doing something productive instead of merely making objections to a President that has done more within thirty five days of service than any other President except President Franklin D.
Roosevelt. At least give to the Girl Scouts of America which would be worth more than tearing down a President before the official evaluation after 100 days in office.
"In reality, there are a lot of families and small business with income between 250K and the income of those in the top 2%."
That is a confusing statement which is only partially true. There are lots of small businesses with total income above 250K. Total income and profit are two different things. Small business profit is taxed, small business total income is not. A small business is not taxed the way an individual is taxed.
Only 1.5% of all households in the U.S. earn over $250K according to the most recent available census figures.
So, when Obama is speaking to families and he says that 95% of the families in the U.S. will not see their taxes go up under his tax plan, he is telling the truth.
A small business is not a family and it also is not always small. Depending on the industry, various standards apply that cap the level at which a business is considered a small business. For instance, a construction company with an income of under $33.5 million is considered a 'small business' but that's hardly what most people think about when they hear the term 'small business.' You can see the size standards at this link:
http://www.sba.gov/contractingopportuni … DUSTRY.htm
Businesses called 'small businesses' under these standards are not subject to the same withholding and tax standards as personal households. To lump them in with families is like putting squirrels in school with children because they are both mammals.
However, if you really must lump them in anyway, the average small business CEO earns $233K a year--below the $250K level at which personal income tax will go up under Obama's plan. A household making $233K per year is in the top 2% of all households in the U.S. but is still below the point at which PERSONAL income taxes would increase when the Bush tax cuts are repealed.
When McCain was railing about Obama's tax plan and its disastrous effect on 'small businesses' he made it even more confusing by throwing in self-employed persons, most of whom don't even break five figures in income in a single year, and acting as if they too were all included in the pool of 'small businesses' that would be devastated by Obama's repeal of the Bush tax breaks.
So to correct this statement:
In reality, small businesses and personal households are two different animals altogether that Republicans like to treat as one for the purpose of lying more smoothly and convincingly. Small businesses face lots of challenges but to talk about them as if they are interchangeable in size or in kind with personal households is misleading and misinformed.
The real issue though, as Ralph points out with the Leonhardt piece from the NYT is whether increased taxation that results in more benefits for everybody and a stronger social safety net actually results in less growth and more hardship for business. There really isn't any evidence that it does.
The U.S. currently is the only developed nation that persists in treating its workforce like something out of a Dickens novel.
Who benefits from that? Not the vast majority of American households. Not small businesses. Hmmmm....who is left? Who could it be????
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