13 April 2011

Initial Response: the devil is in the details

My initial response to the president's speech is that it wasn't quite as horrible as I feared, but that the devil is in the details. He did not make a firm commitment to no major changes in Social Security, and it seems to me once again he's meeting the Republicans more than halfway, and allowing their framing of the issues with regard to how important the debt is right now (I think less than he is saying), to prevail. He's still letting them set the agenda.

Also, if this is the starting point, he is effectively admitting that the outcome, the actual policy, will no doubt be worse. 

I did like that he included military spending cuts, but there were no specific targets.

I also liked that he at least stated the principle that the rich should pay more, but there was nothing specific. He could have given some detail about just how hugely the taxes the rich pay have come down in the last 50 years, but he missed that opportunity.

All in all, I will say this: there is at least a possibility from this speech to stand up for the American people and prevent the evisceration of essential programs, and at least start to restore the taxation of the very rich that will be necessary to address the gross income inequality that's a big part of the problem, and which the president didn't even mention.

But if this is just a prelude to more cave-ins to the Republicans, which is what I fear, I will stick to my stated intention to oppose this president's policies, in favor of more progressive policies. In other words, to be part of an in-party opposition from the left, in hopes of putting pressure on this president to be aware that he must stand up for our interests, even if it means a showdown rather than conciliation with the Rightists. They certainly have shown willingness to play this kind of hardball; we need to MAKE Obama do likewise.

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