Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hinkle: Talking Down to the Public Will Surely Work . . . | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Hinkle: Talking Down to the Public Will Surely Work . . .
Published: January 29, 2010

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.

--Barack Obama, State of the Union.

There's a lot in the bill that people are going to like. It's just a question of understanding it.

--ABC's Cokie Roberts, Dec. 20.

What are the immediate plans for recalibrating the message or intensifying the message to explain better to the American people what you're trying to do?

--Question to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Jan. 20.

It mighty big of man with nice voice to take blame like that. Him not need to. Head honchos not often take blame. Most times after big screw-up, head honchos say they have "full confidence" in someone who work for them -- right before pushing someone off edge of cliff, or letting someone twist "slowly, slowly" in wind, like tricky Nixon guy did with man who ran FBI.

Man with nice voice not like those other head honchos. Him bring change to Washington already, see?

But him right. Him not explain health care good. Use too many big words. Say too many compound-complex sentences. Confuse American people. American people not want that. American people want simple explanation. Simpler the better.

Me feel kind of sorry. It must really get on nerves for man with nice voice and people on his side, like lady on TV and cheerleaders in White House press pool. Why can't lamebrain American people get idea through thick skulls? Them not know how to make choices in own best interests! Need enlightened leaders to make choices for them. (Enlightened = smart. Me look this up in thing called "dictionary." Dictionary good! Try sometime!)

Want example? Take mammogram fight. (Mammogram is thing where doctor squish tender woman part really hard and take picture. Owie!) Last year U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say women not need mammogram until age 50. Say squishing younger women not very clinically effective, so not save many lives. Say sometimes "false positives" scare women. This not good. Smart people must protect silly women, make sure they not get scared!

Experts say, from cruising altitude of 32,000 feet saving 12,000 lives over course of 10 years just not worth it. Country should not waste money like that. (Can hardly see someone from that far up anyway.) But crazy right-wing TeaParty people go around saying things like: Well, if it my life or my daughter's life, maybe me feel different. Maybe me should be one to decide to get squished or not. This just show crazy right-wing Tea-Party people always thinking about themselves.

There so many things man with nice voice need to explain gooder. Like, if some people still need health insurance, why not just give them insurance voucher, like housing voucher or food stamps? Why put entire U.S. medical system in Cuisinart and set on Liquefy?

How come House bill create 111 new boards, commissions, and programs? How come, if point is to give insurance, House bill raise big chunk of revenue by fining people without insurance? How that help anyone? This seem crazy to knuckle-dragging trailer-park people, who not know no better. And how come Medicaid and Medicare not doing the job? Isn't that what they for? And if they not do job, then why should people think even bigger program will?

Many American people too stupid to see answers to questions like these, even though they totally obvious.

Man with nice voice also need to explain why it so bad that U.S. spend more on health care than other countries. U.S. spend more on clothes and iPods, too. People in U.S. have more what called "discretionary income." Only spend small share of paycheck on food and rent, so lots left over. Old man want to get knee fixed, why stop him? Him want to buy big new tender woman parts to make hot young trophy wife even hotter, what wrong with that? Seem kind of silly, sure. But man with nice voice need to point out where in Constitution it say White House get to make that call for him.

Stupid American people have strange mad love for Constitution. Crazy right-wing Tea-Party people always making big fat deal out of it. Want to know where it say Congress can make people buy insurance. Freaky house speaker think that Constitution business nonsense. "Are you serious?" she want to know. Crazy right-wing Tea-Party people dead serious. Say government that can make you buy insurance can make you do anything, anything at all. Some even ask what crazy right-wing president and Congress with that kind of power might do. Me not like to think about that!

Whole issue make brain hurt. Good thing man with nice voice in charge. Him have right ideas. Just need to try new angle, that all. Talk slower. Talk louder. Use small words. Treat American people like kid who got held back in elementary school. That bound to work eventually.

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.

--Judge Learned Hand.

Friday, January 29, 2010

CACI survey: Most Colorado businesses would delay expansion, cut pay if tax breaks are suspended - Denver Business Journal:

Monday, January 25, 2010, 1:46pm MST | Modified: Monday, January 25, 2010, 10:00pm
CACI survey: Most Colorado businesses would delay expansion, cut pay if tax breaks are suspended
Denver Business Journal - by Ed Sealover

Nearly three-quarters of Colorado businesses say they would delay planned expansions and more than half would cut worker pay and freeze hiring if proposed suspensions of 13 tax exemptions are signed into law, according to a survey released Monday by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.

The CACI survey, conducted among the statewide business group’s 112 members, was released just two days before the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to conduct the first hearings on the budget-balancing proposal.

And it came three days after three other business organizations, including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, sent Gov. Bill Ritter a letter saying that they were concerned that approval of exemption cuts would lead to “job loss and stymied economic growth.”

It was not immediately apparent what effect the two memos would have on the exemption bills, which have been championed by Ritter and Democratic legislative leaders but so far haven’t encountered serious opposition from the business community.

Ritter called business groups in last week and said that he was proposing to speed up seven of the exemption suspensions from July 1 to March 1 in order to help close a $60 million shortfall in this fiscal year’s budget.

But the two efforts represent the largest evidence yet that leaders from a number of different types of businesses are beginning to mobilize against the efforts — a powerful coalition that has brought down proposed legislation in years past.

“All tax credits that are eliminated or suspended directly affect our profitability and will affect our ability to employ and provide benefits to our employees and eventually could eliminate our ability to stay in business,” wrote Kim Moravec, co-owner of ABC Die Cutting and Embossing of Denver, in response to the CACI survey.

The 13 targeted tax exemptions represent $131.8 million in the revenue that the state intends to apply toward an expected budget shortfall in the fiscal year that begins July 1. They range from a $48 million sales-tax exemption on energy used in the manufacturing process to a $1.5 million sales-tax exemption on agricultural compounds and bull semen.

CACI’s survey identified four of the 13 that are the most troubling to business. Those, in order of the percentage of respondents that said they would have the most critical impact on their operations, are:

• A sales-tax exemption on computer software bought anywhere other than a store;

• A three-year limit on the net operating loss carry-over to $250,000;

• The two-year suspension of the manufacturing energy usage exemption;

• A two-year limit on the corporate enterprise zone investment tax credit.

Marty Terek of Ball Corp. in Broomfield noted in the survey that his company could lose $750,000 a year through the energy exemption suspension and see a decrease in production of soft-drink containers, whose exemption also is on the chopping block. The two hits taken together could severely impact the company, he said.

“Colorado businesses want to keep their workers employed and then lay the foundation for creating additional jobs,” CACI President Chuck Berry said in a news release. “But the legislative proposals to raise taxes on business at this time will only frustrate our job creators in their efforts.”

Ritter press secretary Evan Dreyer responded that the administration has asked CACI and other business groups for alternative ideas for months on how to close a $1 billion gap in next year’s budget but has yet to hear any constructive ideas.

The only other option at this time is to cut K-12 education by some $125 instead of taking the money from tax exemptions — an idea that Ritter feels will do more long-term harm than suspending tax breaks, Dreyer said.

“We understand this will impact businesses. But we are asking everyone – including state agencies, government employees, K-12 schools, businesses and many others – to share the burden,” Dreyer said. “We also are making sure that the most important things – food, medicine and manufacturing parts – are still exempt from the state’s 2.9 percent sales tax.”

Thursday, January 28, 2010 - President Obama’s Lexicon of Rhetorical Devices
President Obama’s Lexicon of Rhetorical Devices
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By Ben Shapiro
Listen to Commentary Podcasts

President Obama’s friends call him the smartest man ever to occupy the White House (a dubious claim in light of the fact that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson all had better intellectual credentials or were far superior writers, or both).

According to his supporters, his command of the English language is supposedly unparalleled (when using a teleprompter, presumably).

There’s only one problem: Obama is addicted to utilizing language that he has carefully tailored or perverted to obfuscate the truth. In other words, he uses double talk on a routine basis.

In order to understand what Obama truly tells us when he speaks to us, it is necessary to grab our Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring and decipher precisely what he means when he uses his pet phrases. This, then, is a list of his favorite linguistic flourishes—and just what he means when he uses them:

“Hope and change”: Socialism at home, surrender abroad. Obama uses this talismanic formula when he wants to activate his base, which responds to it like a jukebox when you drop in a nickel.

“False choice”: A very real choice Obama wants to pretend doesn’t exist. He uses this when he puts on his “pragmatic administrator” mask. Instead of facing up to the reality that we sometimes have to choose between scientific advances and morality, or between civil liberties and national security, or between environmental regulations and economic development, Obama pretends he can solve these conflicts through some sort of Hegelian synthesis only he is wise enough to comprehend.

“Deficit reduction”: Deficit increases. Obama suggests that he will cut the rate at which the deficit is growing—something he has never actually achieved—and acts as though this is actual deficit reduction. It’s the equivalent of a woman spending $2,000 on her credit card, then informing her credit card company that though she won’t pay off her debt, she’ll only spend $1,500 next month.

“Let me be clear”: Let me lie to you.

“Make no mistake”: See “let me be clear.”

“Unprecedented”: When he’s doing something beneficial for the American people, Obama claims he is the first to ever think of it; when he’s doing something harmful, he seems to always find a precedent for it in FDR or LBJ.

“This isn’t about me”: This is completely about me.

“Hitting the reset button”: Refusing to learn from the mistakes of the past and acting as though a fresh start requires utter naivete.

“Reaching out to the other side of the aisle”: Totally rejecting all ideas from anyone outside the Obama-approved bubble. Then suggesting that subsequent political impasses are their fault, and that they ought to bend down and grab their ankles to establish a new tone in Washington.

“Failed policies of the past”: Don’t blame me! Blame Bush!

“Teachable moment”: I screwed something up, now I’ll brag about it.

“Tax cut”: Redistribution of money from those who pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to those who pay none.

“Transparency”: Deliberate opaqueness, hiding crucial facts from the American public.

“Accountability”: Don’t worry, I’ll fire someone.

“Stimulus”: Payoffs to friends.

“Shovel-ready jobs”: Jobs that no one wants and that last for two months.

“Green jobs”: Imaginary jobs.

“Saved or created”: Old Obama language used to futz the numbers on jobs.

“Recovery”: Continued economic stagnation.

“Jobs funded”: Jobs Obama will take credit for, even though he has done nothing to either save or create.

“It won’t happen overnight”: It will never happen.

“Progress”: Redistribution.

“Cynics”: Anyone who doesn’t believe in the Obama radical agenda. Obama uses this word to disparage his critics as angry and lacking in basic qualities of human kindness.

Watch for these phrases while marveling at Obama’s supposed rhetorical brilliance. They shouldn’t be taken at face value, because Obama isn’t a master of pure artistry of the English language—he’s a master at manipulation above all.

The 2010 Census: Beware the State’s Assault on Privacy! by Gary D. Barnett

The 2010 Census: Beware the State’s Assault on Privacy!

by Gary D. Barnett
Recently by Gary D. Barnett: Treason or Patriotism: Which Do You Choose?

The time is near for the national headcounters “SWAT” teams to once again begin their decennial assault on privacy. Some of those neighbors you thought to be decent people will now be hounding you incessantly to extract personal and private information that is none of theirs or the state’s business. Don’t be fooled by their claim that they are just doing their constitutional duty, as nothing could be further from the truth.

I have gone over this several times before, but the reasons for and the constitutionality of the census count is worth review. I will preface my remarks by saying that I don’t think much of the constitution in the first place, because I consider it too weak and too broad in nature, but since that document outlines the rules and reasons for the census, it is necessary to refer to it here. Article 1, section 2 states:

(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.

There are several items of interest in the above passage that in my opinion render the constitutionality of modern census taking moot, as I discussed earlier here. There are many legal scholars who would argue this, but even if I concede this point, the fact remains that any census is to be a simple count of heads; nothing more. This is not arguable given what is stated above in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution.

So now that we understand that the only proper “constitutional duty” is to simply count the people in a given area (not their address, gender, work status, ethnic background, number of toilets, etc.), then why are all these very personal and private questions asked in the first place? Why does the U.S. Census Bureau not only ask unconstitutional and personal questions, but demand that they be answered? Why in fact do these same cretins threaten anyone who doesn’t comply with their Gestapo-style tactics?

To answer these questions honestly, one will have to come to the unpleasant conclusion that we no longer live in a free country, but in a tyrannical and totalitarian state that demands to know anything and everything about us; where we live, where we work, how much money we earn, how much property we have, what our habits are, our marital history, our education history, and even your fertility status, along with many other idiotic and invasive questions. Depending on whether you receive the American Community Survey or the new short form, both of which are intolerable and unconstitutional, you are expected to fill them out completely. This year, the government is touting its new short form with only ten questions, but they have pulled a rope-a-dope. I think this is because of the growing census dissent. Previously, the long form, which is now called the American Community Survey, was sent once every ten years to every one in six households. Now the long form is sent to fewer people, but is sent on a rotating basis, and every year instead of every ten years. This gives the impression, and this is the underlying objective of the census bureau, that the decennial count is the new kinder, less intrusive census process. In reality, it is merely a smoke and mirrors approach meant to fool the public. My belief is that the pressure to complete these nefarious surveys will intensify and the threats will increase. This will happen in my opinion for several reasons, not the least of which is the continued and warranted lack of compliance by some in this country. I can only hope that the dissent will grow and become more than the U.S. Census Bureau can overcome, and that this invasive absurdity then would cease. I will not however, hold my breath for this result given the now sheep-like behavior of the populace at large.

The bottom line is this: I haven’t seen a ramp-up of this magnitude by the U.S. Census Bureau before. Even locally, and every day, radio ads about the importance of the census, employment advertising for census takers (50 are being hired in my small town), and other government ad blitzes are rampant. It seems that this census invasion is already in full gear, even though the actual count will not begin until probably March or April.

As the census count becomes more evident, I’m sure I will be compelled to continue to monitor and expose the abuses. Hopefully, those who understand that there is no validity to the modern census count and that it is fully unconstitutional, will aggressively resist the government’s unwanted advances. I do not allow any census taker on my property nor will I in the future. It is easier for me than most because I live in the country and access is one way. This is imposing to those trespassing on my property. But if others who don’t have the options I have are willing to either fully resist, or just give the number of people at the residence and nothing more, that attitude will impede the “progress” of those busybody intruders. In addition, if enough of us cause them problems, it might be more reported across the country; this causing even more dissent. Call it the beginning of the grassroot anti-census movement if you will.

I must warn you that every level of government is very intent on counting as many as it can, and gaining as much information about you as is possible. Local and state governments are dependent on high count rates because federal tax revenue fed back to the states, counties, cities and towns is dependent on the census. Allocations to different welfare programs, spending projects, schools, etc., are directly related to how many and what “category” of people can be counted in a given area. This is also why many local census takers are so aggressive, and why federal government threats may be forthcoming should noncompliance occur. It is simply a racket, you understand, not different than any other corrupt scheme. And since many local politicians and certain interested parties stand to benefit from a high count and particular and isolated information, they will apply unending pressure.

Even the public school system (government indoctrination centers) is now enlisting and training your kids to pressure you to fully participate in the 2010 census. Your children will make good little soldiers and spies you understand, as they are ordered into government service to promote the census. They will even have “family take-home pages to share with parents and guardians.” I guess “readin, writin, and rithmetic” will have to take a proverbial back seat this year.

All I can offer is that in order for us to defend our privacy, it is imperative that as many of us as possible resist this assault. The government will use every means at its disposal to force this privacy invasion, and only a groundswell of resistance will deter this unconstitutional and liberty-destroying census process. All information collected will be forever stored in government data-bases, so don’t become just another cog in their wheel of deception. Instead, consider liberty!

January 28, 2010

Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.

Copyright © 2010 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Public Knowledge: Senate Legislative Process a Mystery to Many - Pew Research Center

Public Knowledge: Senate Legislative Process a Mystery to Many
Political News IQ Update

January 28, 2010
From: To:

The public has consistently expressed strong interest in the health care debate, but relatively few Americans can correctly answer two key questions related to the Senate's consideration of health care legislation.

In the latest installment of the Pew Research Center's News IQ Quiz, just 32% know that the Senate passed its version of the legislation without a single Republican vote. And, in what proved to be the most difficult question on the quiz, only about a quarter (26%) knows that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster1 in the Senate and force a vote on a bill. The survey was conducted before Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won a special election to the Senate on Jan. 19; Brown's election means Senate Democrats can no longer count on a 60-vote majority once he takes office.

About six-in-ten (59%) correctly identify China as the foreign country holding the most U.S. government debt. Nearly as many (57%) know that the United States imports two-thirds of the oil it consumes. As was the case in previous knowledge surveys, a majority (55%) knows the current unemployment rate is about 10%. However, far fewer (36%) correctly estimate the current level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average at about 10,000 points.

The news quiz, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Jan. 14-17 among 1,003 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, asked 12 multiple-choice questions on subjects ranging from economics and foreign affairs to prominent people in the news. Americans answered an average of 5.3 questions correctly.

The survey finds that while the public struggled with most of the political questions on the survey, most Americans (56%) know that more than one woman is currently serving on the Supreme Court. Notably, this is the only question on the quiz where as many women as men answer correctly; men scored significantly better on other questions.

In response to questions about terrorism and national security, half (50%) correctly identify Yemen as the country where intelligence officials believe the suspect in an attempted Christmas Day airline bombing received training and bomb materials. A slightly smaller percentage (43%) knows that during all of 2009 there were more American military fatalities in Afghanistan than in Iraq; 32% said more U.S. troops were killed in Iraq. This question proved difficult for many, even though interest in developments in Afghanistan -- and media coverage -- picked up in late 2009 as President Obama announced his war strategy.

Questions about people in the news round out the quiz update. About four-in-ten (39%) know that Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. About a third (32%) correctly pick Michael Steele as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Interestingly, nearly half of Republicans (48%) are able to identify Reid as Senate majority leader compared with just a third (33%) of Democrats. More Republicans can identify Reid as majority leader than can identify Steel as chairman of the RNC (37%).

About four-in-ten (41%) correctly say that Stephen Colbert is a comedian and television talk show host. This is the only question on the quiz that more people younger than age 30 than older people answer correctly (49% vs. 39%).
Knowledge and the Senate Health Care Bill

Asked how many GOP senators voted for the chamber's health care bill on Dec. 24, only 32% know that the measure received no support from Republican members. About as many answer incorrectly, saying that five (13%), 10 (8%) or 20 (8%) GOP senators voted for the bill. About four-in-ten (39%) do not know or decline to answer.

A smaller percentage (26%) knows that 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster in the Senate. About as many (25%) mistakenly say that a simple majority of 51 votes can break a filibuster.

As with most other questions on the news quiz, well-educated people, older Americans and men are more likely to correctly answer the questions about the Senate vote on health care and the filibuster.

Less than a third of Republicans or Democrats can correctly identify the number of votes needed to end a filibuster (30% among Republicans, 25% among Democrats).

College graduates fared better than other demographic groups on this question, but fewer than half of college graduates (45%) know that it takes 60 Senate votes to overcome a filibuster.

Republicans More Knowledgeable on Many Issues

Republicans, on average, answered one more question correctly than Democrats (5.9 vs. 4.9 correct). These differences are partly a reflection of the demographics of the two groups; Republicans tend to be older, well educated and male, which are characteristics associated with political and economic knowledge. Still, even when these factors are held constant, Republicans do somewhat better than Democrats on the knowledge quiz.

Among the largest gaps comes over knowledge of who leads the U.S. Senate. About half (48%) of Republicans are able to identify Reid as the current majority leader, while only a third of Democrats can name their own party's Senate leader. More Republicans can name Reid (48%) than Steele (37%), the RNC chairman.

The one question in the survey in which Democrats slightly outperform Republicans is about the number of women now serving on the U.S. Supreme Court. Close to six-in-ten Democrats (58%) know that more than one woman serves on the high court, compared with 50% of Republicans. Though the Democratic Party is made up of more women than men, this finding does not appear driven mostly by gender. Republican men and women are about equally likely to answer this question correctly (about half each), while solid majorities of both Democratic men (60%) and women (57%) get this question right.
Large Age Gap in Knowledge

As in previous knowledge surveys, older people fare much better on most questions than do young people. The largest gaps come on questions about the Christmas Day terrorist plot and the name of the Senate leader.

When asked to name the country that intelligence officials believe trained and equipped the suspected Christmas Day bomber, close to six-in-ten (59%) Americans age 50 and older correctly identify Yemen, compared with just 25% of those younger than age 30. Similarly, there is a 34-point difference between those younger than 30 and older than 50 in knowledge of who leads the U.S. Senate (16% vs. 50%).

The most notable exception to this pattern is the ability of young people to identify Colbert. About half (49%) of those younger than 30 correctly identify the comedian and talk show host compared with 38% of those older than 50.
Gender Differences on Economic Questions

The Pew Research Center's news consumption surveys have consistently measured greater attentiveness to news about politics and economics among men than among women. The results of the News IQ Quiz tend to reflect these news preferences.

In the current poll, men on average answer more questions correctly than women (6.0 for men vs. 4.6 for women). The gender gap in news knowledge is greatest on the question of which country holds the most U.S. government debt (70% of men answer correctly vs. 49% of women) and the current level of the Dow (45% of men know this vs. 27% of women). But there is no gender divide on the item about the number of women on the Supreme Court. Roughly equal proportions of men (57%) and women (56%) answer this correctly.
News Knowledge on Average

The survey measures overall news knowledge using the 12 multiple-choice questions in an additive scale. For each question answered correctly respondents receive one point on a scale ranging from zero (none correct) to 12 (all correct). In the current News IQ Quiz, just 2% of the public answered all questions correctly (12 out of 12), while 6% failed to answer a single question right.

Compared with the News Quiz from nearly a year ago, it proved harder for the public to answer at least half the questions correctly this time. Only 42% of Americans answered at least six questions right, compared with 71% who answered at least half the questions correctly in March 2009.

Consistent with past knowledge tests, demographic groups differed in how well they performed on the quiz. Men correctly answered an average of 6.0 out of 12 questions correctly, while women answered an average of 4.6 questions right. Those with college degrees correctly answered 7.3 questions correctly on average. Those with some college experience answered an average of 5.4 questions and those with no college experience answered 3.9 correctly on average.

As in the past, older Americans generally did better than young people. Respondents age 50 and older could correctly answer an average of about two more questions than those under age 30 (5.9 vs. 3.8).

Republicans averaged 5.9 correct answers. Independents correctly answered 5.6 on average and Democrats answered 4.9 correct on average.

View the topline and survey methodology at - President Obama’s Lexicon of Rhetorical Devices

President Obama’s Lexicon of Rhetorical Devices
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By Ben Shapiro
Listen to Commentary Podcasts

President Obama’s friends call him the smartest man ever to occupy the White House (a dubious claim in light of the fact that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson all had better intellectual credentials or were far superior writers, or both).

According to his supporters, his command of the English language is supposedly unparalleled (when using a teleprompter, presumably).

There’s only one problem: Obama is addicted to utilizing language that he has carefully tailored or perverted to obfuscate the truth. In other words, he uses double talk on a routine basis.

In order to understand what Obama truly tells us when he speaks to us, it is necessary to grab our Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring and decipher precisely what he means when he uses his pet phrases. This, then, is a list of his favorite linguistic flourishes—and just what he means when he uses them:

“Hope and change”: Socialism at home, surrender abroad. Obama uses this talismanic formula when he wants to activate his base, which responds to it like a jukebox when you drop in a nickel.

“False choice”: A very real choice Obama wants to pretend doesn’t exist. He uses this when he puts on his “pragmatic administrator” mask. Instead of facing up to the reality that we sometimes have to choose between scientific advances and morality, or between civil liberties and national security, or between environmental regulations and economic development, Obama pretends he can solve these conflicts through some sort of Hegelian synthesis only he is wise enough to comprehend.

“Deficit reduction”: Deficit increases. Obama suggests that he will cut the rate at which the deficit is growing—something he has never actually achieved—and acts as though this is actual deficit reduction. It’s the equivalent of a woman spending $2,000 on her credit card, then informing her credit card company that though she won’t pay off her debt, she’ll only spend $1,500 next month.

“Let me be clear”: Let me lie to you.

“Make no mistake”: See “let me be clear.”

“Unprecedented”: When he’s doing something beneficial for the American people, Obama claims he is the first to ever think of it; when he’s doing something harmful, he seems to always find a precedent for it in FDR or LBJ.

“This isn’t about me”: This is completely about me.

“Hitting the reset button”: Refusing to learn from the mistakes of the past and acting as though a fresh start requires utter naivete.

“Reaching out to the other side of the aisle”: Totally rejecting all ideas from anyone outside the Obama-approved bubble. Then suggesting that subsequent political impasses are their fault, and that they ought to bend down and grab their ankles to establish a new tone in Washington.

“Failed policies of the past”: Don’t blame me! Blame Bush!

“Teachable moment”: I screwed something up, now I’ll brag about it.

“Tax cut”: Redistribution of money from those who pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to those who pay none.

“Transparency”: Deliberate opaqueness, hiding crucial facts from the American public.

“Accountability”: Don’t worry, I’ll fire someone.

“Stimulus”: Payoffs to friends.

“Shovel-ready jobs”: Jobs that no one wants and that last for two months.

“Green jobs”: Imaginary jobs.

“Saved or created”: Old Obama language used to futz the numbers on jobs.

“Recovery”: Continued economic stagnation.

“Jobs funded”: Jobs Obama will take credit for, even though he has done nothing to either save or create.

“It won’t happen overnight”: It will never happen.

“Progress”: Redistribution.

“Cynics”: Anyone who doesn’t believe in the Obama radical agenda. Obama uses this word to disparage his critics as angry and lacking in basic qualities of human kindness.

Watch for these phrases while marveling at Obama’s supposed rhetorical brilliance. They shouldn’t be taken at face value, because Obama isn’t a master of pure artistry of the English language—he’s a master at manipulation above all.

Paul D. Ryan: A GOP Road Map for America's Future -

A GOP Road Map for America's Future
There's still time to rejuvenate our market economy and avoid a European-style welfare state.


In tonight's State of the Union address, President Obama will declare a new found commitment to "fiscal responsibility" to cover the huge spending and debt he and congressional Democrats have run up in his first year in office. But next Monday, when he submits his actual budget, I fear it will rely on gimmickry, commissions, luke-warm spending "freezes," and paper-tiger controls to create the illusion of budget discipline. Meanwhile, he and the Democratic congressional leadership will continue pursuing a relentless expansion of government and a new culture of dependency.

America needs an alternative. For that reason, I have reintroduced my plan to tackle our nation's most pressing domestic challenges—updated to reflect the dramatic decline in our economic and fiscal condition. The plan, called A Road Map for America's Future and first introduced in 2008, is a comprehensive proposal to ensure health and retirement security for all Americans, to lift the debt burdens that are mounting every day because of Washington's reckless spending, and to promote jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy.

The difference between the Road Map and the Democrats' approach could not be more clear. From the enactment of a $1 trillion "stimulus" last February to the current pass-at-all costs government takeover of health care, the Democratic leadership has followed a "progressive" strategy that will take us closer to a tipping point past which most Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes—a European-style welfare state where double-digit unemployment becomes a way of life.

Americans don't have to settle for this path of decline. There's still time to choose a different future. That is what the Road Map offers. It is based on a fundamentally different vision from the one now prevailing in Washington. It focuses the government on its proper role. It restrains government spending, and hence limits the size of government itself. It rejuvenates the vibrant market economy that made America the envy of the world. And it restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship and opportunity.

Here are the principal elements:

• Health Care. The plan ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure an affordable health plan that best suits their needs, and shifting the control and ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals.

It provides a refundable tax credit—$2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families—to purchase coverage (from another state if they so choose) and keep it with them if they move or change jobs. It establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services.

State-based high risk pools will make affordable care available to those with pre-existing conditions. In addition to the tax credit, Medicaid will provide supplemental payments to low-income recipients so they too can obtain the health coverage of their choice and no longer be consigned to the stigmatized, sclerotic care that Medicaid has come to represent.

• Medicare. The Road Map secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to save this critical program. It preserves the existing Medicare program for Americans currently 55 or older so they can receive the benefits they planned for throughout their working lives.

For those under 55—as they become Medicare-eligible—it creates a Medicare payment, initially averaging $11,000, to be used to purchase a Medicare certified plan. The payment is adjusted to reflect medical inflation, and pegged to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. The plan also provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment.

The proposal also fully funds Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) for low-income beneficiaries, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs. Enacted together, these reforms will help keep Medicare solvent for generations to come.

• Social Security. The Road Map preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older. For those under 55, the plan offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees. This proposal includes a property right, so those who own these accounts can pass on the assets to their heirs. The plan also guarantees that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation.

The plan also makes the program permanently solvent by combining a modest adjustment in the growth of initial Social Security's benefits for higher-income individuals, with a gradual, modest increase in the retirement age.

• Tax Reform. The Road Map offers an alternative to today's needlessly complex and unfair tax code, providing the option of a simplified system that promotes work, saving and investment.

This highly simplified code fits on a postcard. It has just two rates: 10% on income up to $100,000 for joint filers and $50,000 for single filers, and 25% on taxable income above these amounts. It also includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption (totaling $39,000 for a family of four), and no tax loopholes, deductions, credits or exclusions (except the health-care tax credit).

The proposal eliminates the alternative minimum tax. It promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends. It eliminates the death tax. It replaces the corporate income tax—currently the second highest in the industrialized world—with a business consumption tax of 8.5%. This new rate is roughly half the average in the industrialized world and will put American companies and workers in a stronger position to compete in a global economy.

Even without the Democratic spending spree, our fiscal outlook is deteriorating. They are only hastening the crisis. It is not too late to take control of our fiscal and economic future. But the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes and the more difficult our options for solving it.

The Road Map promotes our national prosperity by limiting government's burden of spending, mandates and regulation. It ensures the opportunity for individuals to fulfill their human potential and enjoy the satisfaction of their own achievements—and it secures the distinctly American legacy of leaving the next generation better off.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is the ranking member of the Budget Committee.

Text - Obama’s State of the Union Address -

January 28, 2010
Text: Obama’s State of the Union Address

Following is the transcript of President Obama's State of the Union address, delivered Jan. 27, 2010, as released by the White House:

Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they've done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable -– that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted -– immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades –- the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what I've witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana; Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children -– asking why they have to move from their home, asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it. Not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -– what they deserve -– is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills; a chance to get ahead; most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They're coaching Little League and helping their neighbors. One woman wrote to me and said, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged."

It's because of this spirit -– this great decency and great strength -– that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight. (Applause.) Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength. (Applause.)

And tonight, tonight I'd like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.

It begins with our economy.

Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it -- (applause.) I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal. (Laughter.)

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular -– I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable. And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we've recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. (Applause.) Most but not all.

To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. (Applause.) Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. (Applause.)

Now, as we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.

That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. (Applause.) We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. (Applause.)

I thought I'd get some applause on that one. (Laughter and applause.)

As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime. (Applause.)

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. (Applause.) Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. (Applause.) And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. (Applause.) That's right -– the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill. (Applause.) Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster. But you don't have to take their word for it. Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act. Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created. Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn't be laid off after all.

There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.

But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight. (Applause.)

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses. (Applause.) But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do –- in small businesses, companies that begin when -- (applause) -- companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they're ready to grow. But when you talk to small businessowners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small businessowners across the country, even those that are making a profit.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.) I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit

-– one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. (Applause.) While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment. (Applause.)

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. (Applause.) From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.

Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. (Applause.) There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation's goods, services, and information. (Applause.)

We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities -- (applause) -- and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. (Applause.) And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)

Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. (Applause.) As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. (Applause.) They will. (Applause.) People are out of work. They're hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay. (Applause.)

But the truth is, these steps won't make up for the seven million jobs that we've lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America's families have confronted for years.

We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the last decade –- what some call the "lost decade" -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold? (Applause.)

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations -- they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America. (Applause.)

As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may become, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

Now, one place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am not interested in punishing banks. I'm interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. (Applause.) We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. (Applause.) And the lobbyists are trying to kill it. But we cannot let them win this fight. (Applause.) And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. We've got to get it right. (Applause.)

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause) -- an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

But to 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. (Applause.) It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.)

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. (Applause.) And this year I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. (Applause.)

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation. (Applause.)

Third, we need to export more of our goods. (Applause.) Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. (Applause.) So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. (Applause.) To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. (Applause.)

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. (Applause.) But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. (Applause.) And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia. (Applause.)

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people. (Applause.)

Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city. In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. (Applause.) And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.

When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states. Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. That's why I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. (Applause.)

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. (Applause.) Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. (Applause.) And let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. (Applause.)

And by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs -– (applause) -- because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle class. That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on middle-class families. That's why we're nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment –- their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.

This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. (Applause.) And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform. (Applause.) Yes, we do. (Applause.)

Now, let's clear a few things up. (Laughter.) I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics. (Laughter.) I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from Americans with preexisting 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. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.

And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier. (Applause.) Thank you. She gets embarrassed. (Laughter.)

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. (Applause.)

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, the 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. (Applause.)

So, 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. (Applause.) Let me know. Let me know. (Applause.) I'm eager to see it.

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. (Applause.) Let's get it done. Let's get it done. (Applause.)

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. It's a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one that's been subject to a lot of political posturing. So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight.

At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. (Applause.) By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door. (Laughter and applause.)

Now -- just stating the facts. Now, if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis. And our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. That, too, is a fact.

I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. (Applause.) Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. (Applause.)

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it. (Applause.)

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. (Applause.) And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s. (Applause.)

Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- (laughter) -- when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand –- understand if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -– all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that's what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense. (Laughter.) A novel concept.

To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. (Applause.)

That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why -– for the first time in history –- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions.

But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform. Applause.) Democrats and Republicans. (Applause.) Democrats and Republicans. You've trimmed some of this spending, you've embraced some meaningful change. But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. (Applause.) Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent. (Applause.)

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how we work with one another. Now, I'm not naïve. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony -- (laughter) -- and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -– a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of -- (applause) -- I'm speaking to both parties now. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators. (Applause.)

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government.

So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. (Applause.) And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. (Applause.) Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. (Applause.) So let's show the American people that we can do it together. (Applause.)

This week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. I'd like to begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait. (Laughter.)

Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. We can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I'm not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who's tough. Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let's leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future -- for America and for the world. (Applause.)

That's the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we've renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We've made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence. We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. And in the last year, hundreds of al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed -- far more than in 2008.

And in Afghanistan, we're increasing our troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. (Applause.) We will reward good governance, work to reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans -- men and women alike. (Applause.) We're joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitments, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am absolutely confident we will succeed.

As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. (Applause.) We will support the Iraqi government -- we will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and we will continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home. (Applause.)

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world –- they have to know that we -- that they have our respect, our gratitude, our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home. (Applause.) That's why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades -- last year. (Applause.) That's why we're building a 21st century VA. And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families. (Applause.)

Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we're also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people -– the threat of nuclear weapons. I've embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. (Applause.) And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (Applause.)

Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons. That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions –- sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That's why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise. (Applause.)

That's the leadership that we are providing –- engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We're working through the G20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We're working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science and education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We're helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease -– a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That's why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. (Applause.) That's why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; why we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity. (Applause.) Always. (Applause.)

Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. (Applause.) We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. (Applause.) This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. (Applause.) It's the right thing to do. (Applause.)

We're going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws -– so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work. (Applause.) And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -– to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation. (Applause.)

In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America -- values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These aren't Republican values or Democratic values that they're living by; business values or labor values. They're American values.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions -– our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government –- still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change –- change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change –- or that I can deliver it.

But remember this –- I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.

But I also know this: If people had made that decision 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going -– what keeps me fighting -– is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, "None of us," he said, "…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail."

It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, "We are strong. We are resilient. We are American."

It lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti.

And it lives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace they've never been and pull people they've never known from the rubble, prompting chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!" when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. (Applause.) Let's seize this moment -- to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama to call for bipartisan budget task force

By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 27, 2010; 8:58 AM

President Obama will call for creation of a bipartisan task force to tackle the nation's budget problems in Wednesday night's State of the Union address, aides said, one day after the Senate narrowly rejected a plan to establish such a panel.

The budget commission would have broad authority to recommend changes in the tax code and entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Obama has previously pledged to set up a commission by executive order if Congress fails to act. Such a panel would lack the legal authority to force action in Congress, however, and key Republicans have said they would refuse to participate.

A legislative proposal to create a commission failed by seven votes Tuesday, hours after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released new projections showing the deficit would hit $1.35 trillion this year, a slight improvement over previous forecasts but still one of the deepest budget holes since the end of World War II.

Advocates vowed to keep pushing for the creation of a commission, citing new projections showing that the improving economy has yet to stem the tide of red ink.

The commission's proposals would have been guaranteed a vote in Congress by the end of this year. A bipartisan coalition of 53 senators voted for the plan, but 60 votes were required under a consent agreement.

With the deficit projected to exceed $1 trillion for a second straight year, the Treasury Department will have to continue borrowing heavily to cover the government's bills. Borrowing from private investors is projected to climb to $8.8 trillion by year's end, or 60 percent of the overall economy, the largest burden since the 1950s, the CBO said. Within a few years, the debt load would grow substantially heavier, the CBO said, if Obama extends tax breaks for the middle class and blocks a scheduled pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients.

"We are headed for the danger zone," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Tuesday's vote "shows there is a growing and now majority support for taking on the debt," he said. "But time is running out."

In recent weeks, Obama and congressional Democrats have placed fresh emphasis on reining in deficits swollen to record levels by emergency spending on the economy and faltering tax revenue. On Monday, the White House said Obama would propose in Wednesday's address a three-year freeze on discretionary spending unrelated to national security, a move that would save only about $15 billion next year but as much as $250 billion over the next decade.

Some lawmakers, eager to demonstrate fiscal restraint before facing voters in November, enthusiastically embraced the idea. Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) joined Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) in announcing a similar plan that would freeze non-security spending until deficits are eliminated. Another bipartisan team, Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), rallied support for another proposal that could come before the Senate later this week to cap increases in military and non-security spending at 1.5 percent a year.

"We've been spending too much money for a long time," Sessions said. "We've come to a bipartisan agreement on that."

But he voted against creating a task force to confront the larger deficit problem, saying he feared it would create "a mechanism for a sizable increase in taxes." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also voted no, saying that a "spending reduction commission" would be "a better way to go."

"We've been on this binge for a whole year, and we've got to . . . focus like a laser on the spending problem," McConnell said. "To me, that's the best way out."

Conrad argued that solving the budget problem would require both tax increases and spending cuts, noting that tax collections are at their lowest level -- 15 percent of the economy -- in 60 years. Government spending is also at a six-decade high, Conrad said, driven largely by government efforts to stimulate economic activity, safety-net programs for the unemployed and emergency spending to avert the collapse of global financial markets.

The CBO said Tuesday that the bank bailout, originally pegged at $700 billion, is now projected to cost taxpayers only about $100 billion. But the stimulus package Obama pushed through Congress early last year has proved to be significantly more expensive than projected, the CBO said, and its price tag could approach $862 billion over the next decade.

The nation is emerging slowly from the recession that ended last year, the CBO said. Director Douglas Elmendorf said the agency expects unemployment to hover around 10 percent through 2010 and to drift slowly back toward 5 percent over the next four years.

"Thus more of the pain of unemployment from this downturn lies ahead of us than behind us," Elmendorf said. Democrats are considering a new package of measures to create jobs and bring down unemployment, but such a move would serve to worsen the deficit in the short term, he said.

Meanwhile, Conrad and other conservative Democrats are threatening to vote against a plan to increase the nation's legal debt limit by $1.9 trillion unless a powerful budget commission is created. Senate leaders hope to stage a vote on the debt limit this week.

Obama gives Interpol free hand in U.S. | Washington Examiner

Obama gives Interpol free hand in U.S.
Examiner Editorial
December 30, 2009
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

No presidential statement or White House press briefing was held on it. In fact, all that can be found about it on the official White House Web site is the Dec. 17 announcement and one-paragraph text of President Obama's Executive Order 12425, with this innocuous headline: "Amending Executive Order 12425 Designating Interpol as a public international organization entitled to enjoy certain privileges, exemptions, and immunities."In fact, this new directive from Obama may be the most destructive blow ever struck against American constitutional civil liberties. No wonder the White House said as little as possible about it.

There are multiple reasons why this Obama decision is so deeply disturbing. First, the Obama order reverses a 1983 Reagan administration decision in order to grant Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, two key privileges. First, Obama has granted Interpol the ability to operate within the territorial limits of the United States without being subject to the same constitutional restraints that apply to all domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. Second, Obama has exempted Interpol's domestic facilities -- including its office within the U.S. Department of Justice -- from search and seizure by U.S. authorities and from disclosure of archived documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by U.S. citizens. Think very carefully about what you just read: Obama has given an international law enforcement organization that is accountable to no other national authority the ability to operate as it pleases within our own borders, and he has freed it from the most basic measure of official transparency and accountability, the FOIA.

The Examiner has asked for but not yet received from the White House press office an explanation of why the president signed this executive order and who among his advisers was involved in the process leading to his doing so. Unless the White House can provide credible reasons to think otherwise, it seems clear that Executive Order 12425's consequences could be far-reaching and disastrous. To cite only the most obvious example, giving Interpol free rein to act within this country could subject U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence personnel to the prospect of being taken into custody and hauled before the International Criminal Court as "war criminals."

As National Review Online's Andy McCarthy put it, the White House must answer these questions: Why should we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files that will be beyond the scrutiny of Congress, American law enforcement, the media, and the American people?

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - Corporations Will No Longer Stand Still For Same Old 'Soak The Rich' Schemes

Along the lines of my 1/21/10 post Obama’s Income Cap

Corporations Will No Longer Stand Still For Same Old 'Soak The Rich' Schemes

By J.T. YOUNGPosted 06:54 PM ET

Recent budget results tell a cautionary tale for a soak-the-rich tax policy.

Corporate tax revenues dropped precipitously in 2009. Simultaneously, the deficit shot upward. Even though economic conditions devastated earnings, the deficit tempts policymakers to further worsen them by raising taxes. Global competition advises otherwise.

Overall federal revenues fell 16.6% in the 2009 fiscal year ended Oct. 1. Leading the decline was a 54.4% plunge in corporate income-tax receipts.

America already has a tax system highly dependent on top earners. The top fifth of tax filers pay almost 97% of the nation's income taxes, according to Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

Fueled by an economic downturn that began in the financial community, there is now an added populist sentiment to punish the seemingly unscathed by extracting even more revenue from the top.

Such a soak-the-rich sentiment finds its perfect target in America's corporations. A faceless entity, the corporation creates the useful illusion of being "no one." Therefore, "no one" seems to bear the impact of corporate taxes.

In reality, just the opposite occurs. Corporations are more and more "everyone" — from employees, to investors, to customers. And the taxes placed on corporations are passed on to them all.

Yet today's budget figures breathe new life into the old myth. The fiscal 2009 federal deficit was $1.4 trillion and the Congressional Budget Office projects the fiscal 2010 budget deficit at an almost equal $1.38 trillion.

Washington's first inclination will be to raise taxes to close that gap. Why? For one thing, old habits are hard to break — Washington always looks to raise taxes first.

Politicswise, every spending program has a constituency, that's why it exists and continues to grow. Policywise, spending equals control. And control is power for politician and bureaucrat alike.

The contest between raising taxes and cutting spending is not a fair fiscal fight. Just as politics plays out in sustaining spending, so it targets taxing to the smallest political constituency: first, corporations and then the top earners.

It's no wonder that America's tax system looks like an inverted pyramid, resting on the top earners. It's not simply a matter of progressivity — following the rationale of Willie Sutton, who robbed banks because "that's where the money is." It's politics.

However, while corporations may not have the votes in a democracy, they have mobility in the economy. In their survival instinct, they have mastered "flight" over "fight." Corporations can afford to employ tax planning and avoidance strategies. If truly pressed, they can change locations with relative ease. Democratically small, they are economically nimble.