Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union




I have to confess: He does give a good speech. And I've grown cynical over the last year, hearing the flowery speeches but seeing little action. But then I realized, hell, could I get done in a year what President Obama bit off? Probably not. Not, certainly, given the animosity from the GOP who say no to everything, even if it's good, and the blind insistence from the Democrats that they get everything they want or nothing at all.

Two bits to tonight's State of the Union stood out to me. First, clean energy:
[T]o create more of these clean-energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives, and that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.
It means making tough decisions about opening new off-shore areas for oil and gas development.

It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean-coal technologies.

And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.
Here, big bugaboos for the left. He did indeed say "a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country." This is big news for Idaho and the Idaho National Laboratory, where work on the Next Generation Nuclear Plant is underway, and where French energy giant Areva plans to build a $2 billion uranium enrichment plan, despite what State Rep. Tom Loertscher might have to say about the situation. Clean coal. New off-shore oil and gas development. The left is going to hate this. But if we want energy independence -- which we could have had thirty or forty years ago if the left had't been the Party of No as much as they accuse the Republicans of being such today -- we've got to do this. Especially nuclear. I have never understood why, with Idaho's nuclear legacy, that we do not have commercial nuclear power in this state. We need this.

Then there's health care. I like what I'm hearing, if I'm not perfectly pleased with the bills currently being debated in Washington:
I took on health care because of the stories I've heard, from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage, patients who've been denied coverage, families, even those with insurance, who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans.

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress, our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Still, this is a complex issue. And the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small-business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether.
I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo.

But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform, not now, not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done.
Here, bugaboos for the Right. I'd like to hear the GOP answer this challenge -- if they think what's being proposed is so terrible, where are their ideas? And don't tell me the private market or the status quo. I've seen the status quo. I saw my Dad cash in his retirement savings in the 1980s because of a quadruple arterial bypass operation he had to have to live that he couldn't afford otherwise because we couldn't afford health insurance. I've seen my own private sector health care premiums soar even without us ever filing a claim. The status quo stinks, GOP. If you're the Party of No, I left you with good reason, and good riddance.

I like as well that on health care he's sending a message also to the Democrats and to the mass media. So you don't have that filibuster-proof Senate majority. Don't crumple and give way. Don't listen to the media who want you to give way so they can blame it all on the GOP and their Party of No attitude. Sincerely, and with due diligence, get off your fat, federally-pensioned and insured fannies and see if you can't make the system better for the rest of us. And if you can't, GOP, I'd like to see all of your heinies off the Cadillac health and pension plans you get in the federal system and deal with life as it's tossed to the rest of us. You can have the health insurance policy that I have for my family that will cover us if we have a catastrophic accident, but won't cover us for the incidentals, making us not want to use what the private sector asks us to pay for. You want to talk about rat holes, GOP? Live on the insurance I've had for a year. Pay that $300 monthly premium and then don't ever use the insurance because it won't pay unless I'm in a car crash, and then when it does, whoa nellie do my premiums go up, up, up.

A few other topics: I can't say I'm thrilled with what's being proposed to help the middle class. What's being proposed won't help my family much at all. But there are families out there it will help. So go for it. See what you can do as a bipartisan congress to make things better.

A full transcript of the State of the Union -- without media spin -- is available here. Read it.

Republican response by Gov. McDonnell of Virginia is here. Read it, too. And Gov. McDonnell, what is worse? A government that tries to do too much, or a government that does too little? And to hear the GOP squawk about budget deficits just makes me laugh out loud. Pot, Meet Mr. Kettle.

1 comment:

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