30 November 2010

MY suggestion for the speech Obama should give as soon as possible!

In a post below, I comment on Elliot Spitzer's suggestion for the "speech Obama should give." Here's my version (in part taken from Elliot Spitzer), which I also intend to pass on to the White House today:
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My fellow Americans, good evening.
1.         As a nation, over the last century, we have won the most fundamental ideological battle of modern history—representative government and market based economics have triumphed over all alternatives—and in doing so we have brought freedom, wealth, and prosperity to ourselves and more of the world than ever thought possible. This victory has also made the world more competitive, and as a result, the next century will belong to those who harness innovation and creativity in a global economy. That is our mandate, from which we cannot be distracted.

However, we have been distracted and even deluded by what has been called the “Washington Consensus,” which would have it that America should be the policeman of the world. We have created an “Empire of Military Bases” and a global system of projection of power that has departed from the original ideals of our founding fathers to a very great extent. We are a wealthy nation, but it is not necessary or fitting that our military should be larger than those of all the other nations of the world combined. The Cold War is, after all, finally over, and the threats we face are of a completely different nature today. We have far less need for massive fleets of aircraft, ships, missiles, and military bases throughout the world than was once the case. And, in truth, we can no longer, as a nation, afford to maintain this increasingly anachronistic burden. 

We can, and we will, maintain the forces necessary to defend our nation against any threat. But we should, and I propose that we will, greatly reduce the number of American troops stationed overseas, revamp our "global command" system to one which recognizes that our goal is defense, not projection of power, and, overall, reduce the size of our military apparatus to be efficient, but more manageable and affordable going forward. This I am convinced we can do while actually improving the safety and security of our nation. I will have more to say about this plan in the near future.  

Further, we have experienced a loss of clear purpose in the expensive and deadly conflict in Afghanistan

I am therefore determined to begin drawing down the forward projection of American military power; to remake our military as a force primarily for the defense of our nation, not for the projection of power and influence of an American empire in the world. I am determined to bring the war in Afghanistan to an orderly close as soon as it’s feasible for that to occur; and to rethink and implement a bold and truly effective plan — with emphasis on cooperation and law enforcement techniques — to combat global terrorism. 

I am also determined to offer America’s cooperation and assistance in bringing about peace in the Middle East, particularly with regard to Israel and its neighbors, with a new and more even-handed approach, so that many of the causes of tension and unrest in that area will be reduced going forward.

And equally, I am determined to invest in a post-oil economy here at home so that our nation is, as soon as is feasible, no longer dependent on supplies of oil from that region of the world, or from any foreign sources. 

This will require a large investment, and a large measure of shared sacrifice from Americans. This is an ambitious plan, but we as nation can and must pull together to transform our economy so that prosperity will be shared by all our people, and we will not be dependent for energy on anyone. 

I intend to propose a major program to achieve these ends, and I will be calling on all Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, as well as Independents, to pull together as patriots and act in the interests of our country, not out of parochial or partisan interests, to support these ambitious goals. 

2.         It needs to be reiterated that Terrorism born of intolerance and fundamentalism threatens all we believe in, and we will be vigilant and unwavering in battling the forces of terrorism—wherever they may be harbored. Yet our excursion into nation-building in Afghanistan is over. It is a distraction from our effort to combat terror through methods that actually work, in cooperation with other nations who share our goals of eliminating these threats, and it also interferes with our goals of reducing unsustainable expenditures which do not benefit our own people and our mandate to build our own economy. Terror we will fight—whether in Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, or even embedded in the Pakistani intelligence services. We will use technology, law enforcement, special forces, cooperation with other nations, but we will not risk the lives of tens of thousands of Americans in ineffective counterinsurgency programs or “nation building” on the other side of the world. 

3.         As a matter of immediate concern, I am working with congressional leaders to ensure action—before year's end—on four critical measures: ratification of the New START treaty, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, extension of only the middle-class tax cuts, and extension of unemployment benefits. These steps are necessary for our strategic safety, our moral integrity, and our economic well-being.

4.         We must rethink our approach to “globalization,” and our relations with nations, like China, which don’t always play by the rules. Other countries cannot be allowed to manipulate their currencies to artificially control supply and demand for imports and exports, without consequences. But we must also make the public investments, and other public policy initiatives, necessary to restore our country to a production based economy, and to make America once again a manufacturing powerhouse second to none. I am determined to begin this process, and put in place a long term plan for remaking our economy so that less profit is generated from trading and financial activity, and more of our profits and prosperity come from old fashioned hard work, and actual production of goods and material services. Only a nation whose economy is founded in reality can be truly prosperous, and this has always been America’s strength. I ask your support to ensure that we restore our economy to this basis, going forward, by building and rebuilding the world’s best renewable energy power system and grid, the world’s best high speed rail and other  forms of transportation, and the world’s best system of schools, colleges and universities. Plus, we must remake our policies, including tax policies, to discourage betting on Wall Street and encourage the production of real wealth in our nation’s farms, factories, workshops, and other workplaces. 

5.         My administration is working on dramatic tax-simplification model that will lower tax rates for the poor and middle class, make the very wealthy and truly rich pay their fair share of the burden, eliminate many unneeded taxes, and simultaneously protect Social Security and Medicare for all our citizens. Included in this plan will be elimination of special tax breaks for derivative traders and other special tax schemes, and lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes. These steps, together with the reduction of costs for military expenditures I’ve already mentioned, will assist our economy and will restore fiscal stability to our nation over a reasonable time frame.

6.         My administration will propose a carbon tax, whose proceeds will be used to help build an infrastructure of domestic clean energy that will bring us into a truly sustainable, prosperous economy over time for the benefit of all our people. 

7.          Finally, through a dramatic expansion of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's "Race to the Top" concept, we will restore our K-12 education to world-class status. We will also develop a higher-education finance system, as proposed by Nobel laureate economists James Tobin and Milton Friedman, and recently suggested again by Robert Reich, that permits students to pay  a fair share of the cost of their education after they graduate based on their earnings. This opens the doors of college to all—with no concerns about ability to pay or a debt burden afterward. Education is the most critical component of our future—we will invest in it.

In all these initiatives, it is obvious that I as your president cannot dictate that we will do these things. I am appealing to you, the people of the United States, to recognize in my proposals tonight the way forward for our nation. We must set aside obstructionism. We must say no to those who would only say no. We must reject the counsel of those who say we cannot afford to be great, that we cannot afford to bring prosperity to our own people, that we cannot afford to remake policies to value the contributions of working people over those who merely gamble with what should be the savings our nation needs to grow and develop. I am asking you for your support. Specifically, I am asking you to go online, and register your support for my plan to rebuild America. At the close of this speech we will provide the website and telephone numbers where you can register your support and make comments. 

In the coming days and weeks, I will return to speak with you further about how I hope to convince leaders in Congress to put aside partisan wrangling and, finally, once and for all, dedicate their efforts to really looking at what it will take to solve our problems, reform our place in the world going forward, and remake our economy for prosperity and sustainable production going forward for the benefit of all Americans. 

Thank you for your support, and good night. 

Some passages unchanged from the Spitzer article linked to above, although as noted in the post below I think Spitzer's overall 'plan' is deeply flawed. 

The reference to "Washington consensus" is to Washington Rules by Andrew Bacevich and the reference to "empire of bases" is to a phrase coined by the late Chalmers Johnson and discussed in his last book, Dismantling the Empire.

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