Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Plain speaking: What President Obama should have said to the American people about the budget and the debt ceiling

This is the speech Obama should have given on Sunday night -- before he let the terrorists Republicans dance the hora all night. His polls would have gone up at least 20 points and his re-election would have been all but guaranteed. Americans may love hearing the words "tax cuts" (even when they're for 1% of the population), but they love their John Wayne character even more.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States:

Good evening.

As we all know, the U.S. government is scheduled to reach its limit for borrowing, or what has come to be known as the "debt ceiling" on Tuesday. The U.S. Congress, knowing full well the consequence of not increasing that limit would be economic chaos, has historically raised the ceiling under both Republican and Democratic administrations. This time, due to the intransigence of the opposition Republicans in the House, Congress has been unable to reach a compromise that would increase that limit. With a painful and catastrophic default staring us in the face, I am ordering the following steps to be taken:

Unless a clean bill raising the debt ceiling reaches my desk by Monday night, I will invoke the clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that states, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned" -- to raise the debt ceiling. As President of the United States, I cannot morally or financially let the United States default on its obligations. I cannot allow the actions of a small group of Representatives to push the entire American economy off a cliff. I cannot allow millions to suffer at the hands of a few. If you do not agree with this process or do not take well to the move I am undertaking and want to begin some sort of investigation into the legality of this procedure or even impose hearings for impeachment, let me quote our last Presiden: "Bring it on." I look forward to that fight.

After we ensure the continued flow of checks and payments, Congress and the Executive Branch will immediately begin discussion of the U.S. budget. To be blunt, these budget discussions will include spending cuts across the board, including defense, subsidies to the wildly profitable industries, and closing loopholes that exist only to enhance the re-election of specific Senators and Representatives, for example the corporate jet loophole. I cannot say what the figure will be, but every branch of government will be touched, including many of the perks enjoyed by Members of Congress.

The budget discussions will also include raising taxes on individuals and on corporations, especially those persons that make over $250,000 and corporations that have generated enormous profits yet pay minimal to nothing in taxes. Many of these individuals and corporations have profited greatly from the tax breaks and government bailouts over the past decade. It is time to review just exactly what this government largesse has truly cost a majority of the American people. The Bush tax cuts, which have cost over $400 billion and have not created any jobs, will not be renewed in their current form -- period.

These budget discussions will also include an in-depth examination of the cost to the American economy of sending jobs abroad and the creation of a public works program in conjunction with the private sector to rebuild our faltering infrastructure. The U.S. cannot compete in a world where jobs are shipped out of the country to save a few dollars and the rest of the world builds while applying band aid after band aid.

In addition, I am ordering Harry Reid and John Boehner to keep their respective constituents in session all month -- yes, I know it is August -- to hammer out the framework of a budget that I can sign, a budget that will truly demonstrate shared sacrifice across the board, a sacrifice that will not be based solely on those who cannot pay for high-priced lobbyists sent to D.C. to protect specific breaks and grants.

The past three years have not been a vacation for the American people, and therefore we, the men and women who these struggling Americans elected to shepherd in a better and stronger America, are not taking a vacation until we can agree on a true compromise to get our fiscal house in order.

Thank you.

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