Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's SOTU

With his healthcare reform in shambles and the big defeat of Democrats losing Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts senate seat, President Obama is expected to switch gears in his Wed. State of the Union speech and try to appeal to middle class working folks and independents by proposing a three year spending freeze on non-discretionary spending (except of course military and "homeland security," and Veteran's programs).

The spending freeze is getting a cold shoulder from the right and the left. Conservatives will argue it doesn't go far enough--they want big cuts in Social Security and entitlements. (A special deficit task force is being floated by conservatives for the purpose of forcing cuts in SS and medicare.) Progressives don't support it because the lessons of the 1930s during the Great Depression is that you do NOT cut government spending during an economic depression. Hoover did it (and helped create the Great Depression) and FDR did it again in 1937 and prolonged the depression. Obama, like FDR, is giving in to the deficit hawks too soon.

Perhaps one good thing to come out of the SOTU speech will be to finally call for an end to the military's anti-gay Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The Hillis reporting that the White House has asked the top Senate Democrat on military affairs to postpone announcing a hearing that would explore repealing the controversial law that bans openly gay people from serving in the military.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was expected to have Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testify before his committee on recent calls to end the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The hearing had been expected at the end of January. Now the target date is expected to be Feb. 11, a source said.
Levin was told to hold off on announcing the hearing until after the president’s address Wednesday, according to a Senate aide. Levin was also told that Obama will address the issue of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in his speech on Wednesday, but Levin does not know what’s in the speech.

A source familiar with some details of the initial draft of the State of the Union said it would address the repeal of the controversial law. Obama has made it his campaign promise to repeal the Clinton-era law.

UPDATE: I thought the SOTU speech was very good, even though Obama's policy proposals don't go nearly far enough, especially "health insurance reform," but it was like his campaign speeches and he gave a good sermon to Congress and poked a few republicans (and the Supreme Court) in the eye--with a big smile. Only a brief mention of gays rights, another call to end Clinton's anti-gay DADT military policy, but its not like to get passed, nor is any real healthcare reform.

No mention of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or repeal the "Defense of Marriage Act." ENDA should be a higher priority than repealing DADT.

Republicans looked like goons, as usual, not even applauding to make the big banks pay back the money we loaned them to save their asses. How can the Republican Party be taken seriously as a "populist" party??

Robert Scheer: The Sorry State of Our Union

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