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News State of the Union

  1. Jan 27, 2010 #1
    well, well, well....

    America---the future---what do you think and like/dislike about the speech?





    (Why are the Republicans all dressed alike and most clap only at certain times?)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2010 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Did you go through some sort of wormhole and are in the future? It's still going on right now. And that's what the minority party does at the state of the union, only clap at certain things that agree with them.
     
  4. Jan 27, 2010 #3

    russ_watters

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    I listened to most of it this morning when a political talk show host read it on the air....I'll wait to comment until I can actually quote the transcript though.

    [edit: googling, you can find it online right now, but most news sources probably wait to post it until he finishes delivering it just in case he improvises some of it.]
     
  5. Jan 27, 2010 #4
    The main message I got was: 'Think more about America than you have in the past.'
     
  6. Jan 27, 2010 #5

    Gokul43201

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    Wow! I liked most of the speech AND most of the response. That's a first for me.
     
  7. Jan 28, 2010 #6
    for some reason its not posted on youtube but oddly his responses to the questions he was given is posted on youtube. Anyone know where else I can find a copy of his state of the union address
     
  8. Jan 28, 2010 #7

    russ_watters

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    Ok, I'll start with a few line-by-line critiques, then give a general impression.....
    Common liberal refrain. Vague enough to not technically be a lie, but what it is intended to convey is false for the vast majority of Americans.
    A lesson Obama (hopefully, he really has) learned last Tuesday. Up until Tuesday, with the filibuster-proof majority, there was no need for bipartisanship and with an adjenda very far to the left, no place for it in his administration.
    Riiiiiiiight.
    Well, except for the fact that most of the biggest banks have already paid back their TARP funds ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Asset_Relief_Program#Participants ) and the money that is at risk is in banks not paying it back....so what he is suggesting is not "to pay back" what was given to them, it is to get the big banks to cover the TARP losses of small banks. I wonder if those banks could sue the government over changing the terms of a contract after it was signed and refuse to pay the money?
    I'm generally OK with this, but these systems need to be reformed to prevent abuse. I've only known a handful of people who have been on unemployment, but the only one I know who didn't abuse it or get it when they didn't need it is me. It is a simple economic reality that people will do what you pay them to do, so if you pay people when they are out of work, a great many will gladly accept the deal and choose not to work. Just a few weeks ago a I heard a friend of a friend say she worked two days at a new job, but decided the extra money (above her unemployment) wasn't worth the extra effort of having to work for it.
    That's fine, but when you are a tax-and-spend democrat who only spends, the result is a $1.4 T deficit!
    These are good - and very surprising from Obama. We'll see how they go over in Congress.
    Also good and very surprising. But as with the previous, it is so surprising from Obama it is tough to believe he's serious. Where's that "blue ribbon panel" report on nuclear waste you promised us?
    Interesting. Sounds good, but I doubt that that is something you can make happen just by wishing it.
    Really? Very little of what is now on the table has anything to do with the middle class. And if it is really about money, why aren't you proposing to deal with the problems that make it expensive...? [yeah, more on that later...]
    Heh, right. Socialized healthcare has been a wet dream of liberals for some 50 years. But you took it on for the same reason Clinton did: it's good politics in a campaign. It sounds great when you don't have to actually outline a real plan or subject it to CBO analysis. In a campaign, you can just wave your hand and say everyone will have free heathcare and people who want to believe it will. But as with Clinton's failed plan, once they realize who is paying for the free healthcare and what it actually means, it becomes unpopular.
    Well no, actually, the failure to address the flaws in the insurance industry is one of the biggest complaints people have against it. Heck, if this were just about addressing the flaws in the current system, there'd be no need to burn it to the ground and start over with nationalized healthcare.
    True, but that's not really what you wanted, is it? Tough to consider that a win.
    I suppose I'm supposed to be impressed by that? How 'bout making it revenue neutral right from the start? Regardless, given how fast the deficit just went up and where it is today, taking 20 years to knock $1T off of it sounds like nothing short of a fiscal calamity to me.
    AKA, selling votes in a way that was almost certainly illegal.
    Lol, right, because you just said it would take 20 years to drop $1T!
    That's a mischaracterization due to the fact that a lot of the TARP money is coming back, but in any case, what you've so far proposed isn't helping that.
    Ok....
    Sounds nice, but it is peanuts. Tens of billions off a trillion dollar problem.
    We'll see. Buying votes with Social Security is a powerful thing that Congress won't give up easily. And it won't be popular for Obama either, so I suspect we'll hear about as much from this "commission" as we've heard from his "blue ribbon panel" on nuclear waste. But it sounds nice to say in a speech.
    That would be interesting - a democratic congress passing a law similar to a republican one from 15 years ago!
    Um, ok.....now that you've let all the lobbyists you need into your administration, it is time to clamp down on lobbyists like you promised you would before you were elected? Gee, thanks.
    Quick lesson on Constitutional law: if a law gets struck down by the USSC, a similar law will also almost certainly be unconstitutional. If you want to tackle that issue, you need an amendment. Perhaps one is needed.
    Nice, but we need to wait until after you get your bovine infused healthcare package through before you do that, right?
    Translation: get what you can get passed before half of you are voted out of office in 10 months.
    Indeed - a lot of this speech reads like "oops, I can't ignore the republicans anymore". When you have a filibuster proof majority, there is no need to be bipartisan. Now he's forced to do it at least a little.
    1. Then stop downplaying the threat of terrorism and start taking it seriously. 1a. Stop ignoring/suppressing the Ft. Hood terrorist attack - release the report you've been sitting on for the past 2 months. 1b. Keep the Guantanamo Bay facility open.

    All in all, a great speech. Speeches are what he does best. The tone to me is of someone aiming for the middle. But he did that during the campaign, too: he made himself sound moderate when in fact he's extremely liberal. So time will tell whether he's:
    1. Learning he was wrong and shifting to the middle because it is the right thing to do.
    2. Shifting to the middle because it is politically popular.
    3. Shifting to the middle because he no longer has a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.
    4. Pretending to shift to the middle (like how he campaigned).

    Obama is an idealogue, so it is hard for me to believe he would so quickly shift the way he looks at the world. I don't trust that he's going to really try to do the moderate things he says and I think he left a lot of very liberal adjenda items out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  9. Jan 28, 2010 #8

    russ_watters

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  10. Jan 28, 2010 #9
    Has any president ever given any speech without ending with god bless america? I don't think I ever heard one without that phrase
     
  11. Jan 28, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Not that I can recall.

    I liked how he looked at the Republicans and stated plainly that we tried it their way, and look where it got us. My sentiments exactly. As the camera panned the audience, many looked like kids caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
     
  12. Jan 28, 2010 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    I think Obama did a great job, as always - plenty for Congress to do and a high bar. In principle I can agree with most of what he said. Of course, the devil is in the details.
     
  13. Jan 28, 2010 #12
    The recession was caused by my ex-wife's weight gain. After all, it happened at the same time. And I still tell her "Now look where your weight gain got us". Maybe if I keep repeating this over and over, others will be brainwashed into thinking it's true. :uhh:
     
  14. Jan 28, 2010 #13
    Just need to convince your wife so she will drop a few pounds.

    Wow, Russ. I thought for a minute you were responding to one of my posts. :smile:
     
  15. Jan 28, 2010 #14

    Gokul43201

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    I think Obama was referring to the deficits, but can not confirm that until I find the relevant part in a transcript.
     
  16. Jan 28, 2010 #15

    Dembadon

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    Except one is a logical fallacy and the other is not.
     
  17. Jan 28, 2010 #16
    yep--about 30 years (or more) of self interest from kick backs of the large interests of large companies tuned into just bigger kickbacks to enhance the individual and the overall RNC with no regard for 'the people', for only re-election to continue the cycle and drawing from the gov't's piggy bank to do it (national debt). Democrats are elected to try and straighten out the problem, and the republicans don't like the interruption.

    I think the American government would have had to declare bankruptcy if the republicans had won the presidency in 2008.
     
  18. Jan 28, 2010 #17

    russ_watters

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    Another general observation:

    The speech is mostly fluff. That isn't in and of itself a condemnation as state of the union speeches are usually mostly fluff and fluffy speeches are what Obama does best, but he's been criticized enough over his lack of substance, I actually expected to see more of it here. Most of his new or reiterated policy goals were throw-away one-liners with no substance on which to even get an idea of what he intends, much less make a judgement (without rumor and speculation). Nost notably, he said Congress shouldn't give up on health care reform, but he didn't say what they should do. Ie, he could have simply said 'I call upon the House to pass the Senate version of the health care bill - it isn't perfect, but it is better than nothing.' Instead, we are left with no real idea what comes next.

    This general observation applies to most of what I highlighted in my previous post. As well, things he left out such as Guantanamo Bay. That's a fairly hot issue right now (we just passed his deadline for closing it), but even after the deadline to close it passed, he still has never explicitly stated what he is going to do. If the rumors are correct and he's going to transfer them to Il while maintaining the status quo (or worse, upgrading their status), that's an issue for which people are already getting an idea of what the substance is and they don't like it. So like Ft Hood, the Christmas Day attempted terrorist attack (initially) and his nuclear waste panel, he's better off just preteneding it doesn't exist.

    Since he only paid lip service to most of the policy changes/updates, we can only speculate about what he'll do. It is reasonable to believe that he'll follow his form in dealing with issues that he likes (while perhaps distancing himself from them when they fail). For things that are outside his normal frame of reference such as nuclear power, we'll just have to wait and see if he really means it or if the lip service is a purely political gambit. When a politician doesn't agree with a policy that is nevertheless politically popular (weird to day that about nuclear power, but it appears to now be true...), the smart political move is to be to pay it lip service to the issue without actually dealing with it, then if necessary blaming others for its failure. That way, you can claim you worked on an issue without actually working on it and the gullible fraction of the electorate will buy it and award points for effort. This, of course, is how many of us passed English class in high school.

    But I'd love to be disappointed: I stand ready to read your proposals for how you intend to deal with these issues, Mr. Obama.
     
  19. Jan 28, 2010 #18
    Even had he said it we would still be left wondering what comes next.

    I find your generic criticism profoundly deficient in substance.
     
  20. Jan 28, 2010 #19
    They both contain the same logical fallacy. One is just much more obvious than the other. That's what analogies are for.
     
  21. Jan 29, 2010 #20

    russ_watters

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    Recession, deficits, whatever. The same logical fallacy is in play for anything related to economics and that logical fallacy is that the guy who is in office when it happens is automatically held responsible by the public. The reality, of course, is that the vast majority economic policies take years for the full effects to manifest, even rebates and stimulus, which give a quick shot, then have after-effects.

    The GDP, unemployment and the deficit (all of which were cited in the speech) are somewhat intertwined, with the GDP (the recession) being the biggest driver right now. The largest root causes of the recession are the housing bubble, sub-prime mortgages and derivatives, all related to each other. And the blame for that falls on a number of people, but not even the liberal rag Time Magazine put Bush in the top 10 or even above Clinton in a run-down they did about a year ago of the top 25 people responsible: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1877351,00.html

    Notables on the list:
    1. The CEO of Countrywide for lending money to anyone who asked for it. He may yet go to jail for that.
    2. Phil Graham for writing the enabling legislation for derivative trading and the repeal of the Glass-Segall act which separated banks from investment companies. Perhpas the fact that that second one was passed just after the Depression to help prevent another depression should have been a red flag that it probably shouldn't be repealed....
    13. Bill Clinton for signing both of the above into law, as well as another law to put pressure on guys like #1 to lend money to people who couldn't pay it back.
    14. Bush - "Plus, let's face it, the meltdown happened on Bush's watch." They actually have little specific besides the above noted logical fallacy. The worst he did was block regulation of mutual and hedge funds, but those didn't play a major part in the meltdown. He also tried, but failed, to tighten control over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And he did pass tighter regulation in the wake of ENRON.

    Looking at those last two descriptions, it should be evident that though they are 13 and 14, Bush didn't have anywhere near as big a hand in the economic meltdown as Clinton did. Bush futzed around and didn't do (much good or bad), but Clinton actively encouraged the "irrational exhuberence" that led to the crash.

    Now Bush has specific hands in the current deficits due to the wars he started, the creation of the Homeland Security Dept and TARP. But only the Iraq war was really unnecessary (I'm begrudgingly accepting TARP), and wars are little different from other direct economic stimulus as most of the money spent is directly into the economy (paying soldiers, buying guns and tanks, etc). So you can't just say $500 billion for a war is all deficit any more than you can say $500 billion for a "stimulus" is all benefit. Both are both. Economically, stimulus spending is probably better than war spending because you may spend some of the money on things that will pay dividends, but just as stimulus spending isn't as good as democrats want people to believe, war spending isn't as bad.

    My feeling about the recession is that recessions happen and most people can weather them as long as they don't lose their jobs. My company laid off about 10% of its employees and cut everyone else's base hours by 10%, while eliminating most overtime (I'm an engineer and paid by the hour and usually average around 10% overtime). So my pay was effectively cut 20%, but I didn't los my job, so I can muddle through the next year until the economy picks up. But if I lost my job, I'd be up a creek.

    So government economic stimulus should be targeted almost exclusively at jobs. Tax rebates and across the board tax cuts? They're nice and I'll take them, but I and the economy don't really need them. Extending unemployment - as I said before, ok, but don't abuse it. Money is best spent, however, by encouraging companies to hire/keep employees. Having the government directly hire people is not typically a good idea because the government doesn't do what the market needs, it does what special interests want or what is expedient. Ie, the road paving was one of the big early simulus, but were asphault laborers having a down year and by pouring so much money into it, did we end up just oversaturating that sector with money that couldn't be efficiently spent? Similarly, spending money on alternate energy is nice, but it is already a growth industry and unless the money is tightly targeted, you risk waste. Bailing out GM feels good and saves jobs in the short run, but a company that is perpetually unprofitable is just a perpetual drain: better to let it go under and let Toyota buy it and hire back most of the workers (and break up the unions so they can fire the unproductive ones!).
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2010
  22. Jan 29, 2010 #21
    Nice post Russ.

    I agree with almost all of it.

    I think I'll have the beer I'm drinking tested.
     
  23. Jan 29, 2010 #22

    Gokul43201

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    Not quite. There is a much stronger short term correlation between deficits and government fiscal policy, than there is with GDP growth. If I cut government spending in half next year, it will have an almost immediate and direct effect on the federal deficit, but it's effect on GDP is both hard to determine and could manifest years later.
     
  24. Jan 29, 2010 #23

    Dembadon

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    So then are you implying that the previous administration had no part to play in the current economic state of this country, and that saying they did play a part is a logical fallacy?
     
  25. Jan 29, 2010 #24
    No. He is saying that correlation is not causation.
     
  26. Jan 29, 2010 #25
    "Public debt in dollars quadrupled during the Reagan and Bush presidencies from 1980 to 1992, and remained at about the same level by the end of the Clinton presidency in 2000. During the administration of President George W. Bush, the total debt increased from $5.6 trillion in January 2001 to $10.7 trillion by December 2008,[7] rising from 54% of GDP to 75% of GDP"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt
     
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