President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech is being praised to the skies by progressives, who view it as a blueprint for progressive political dominance. Bill Press of the Bill Press Show has emphasized the frequent use of “We, the People” and the grounding of the speech in the Constitution. Yet much of the speech was an echo of promises made in Obama’s first run for the presidency and then not fulfilled, or repudiations of what Obama did or believed in previously.
I. Immigration Reform
In his inaugural speech, Obama mentiooned his admiration for immigrants who have come to the United States and helped build a better society. He has promised to achieve immigration reform as a major priority in a second term. Obama had promised to achieve immigration reform in the first year of his first term, yet he never introduced a bill nor made much use of his bully pulpit to promote reform. Indeed, when he issued executive orders to limit the conditions under which undocumented aliens could be sent back to Mexico and enact a temporary version of the Dream Act late in his first term, he had deported more of those here illegally than had his predecessor.
At the time Obama signed the executive orders, he condemned the practice of breaking up families through deportation, yet he was condemning his own past activities. I remember a cartoon appearing at the time of the executive order signings: two forlorn-looking, brown-skinned children are standing on the side of a road as an Immigration and Customs vehicle drives away their waving, brown-skinned parents.
President Barack Obama is now saying that if the Congress doesn’t act on immigration, he will send up his own bill and demand that it be signed immediately. Obama had made the same kind of demand in regard to taxation legislation; however, any major piece of legislation should go through the committee system, where the pros and cons of it can be debated.
II. Raising the Poor From Poverty
In a moving statement in the inaugural speech, President Obama said he wanted an America in which a girl born in the deepest poverty would be able to achieve in society the same as everyone else. This is not only a highly unrealistic dream, except in very extraordinary circumstances, but Obama himself has bragged about the fact that discretionary domestic spending is at the lowest level since the Eisenhower administration.
There is a link to Obama’s willingness to starve domestic spending to what he feels about payment reductions and eligibility extensions to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. According to reports, President Obama’s “Grand Bargain” offer to House Speaker John Boehner during the debt ceiling negotiations included the following: 1) a change in the Social Security COL formula that would lead to future reductions in payments to recipients, affecting the most economically deprived the most severely; 2) an increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, meaning that those in the 65-66 age bracket would need to get higher priced private insurance coverage for those two years; and 3) a cut of $100 billion from Medicaid over ten years. Obama still believes in the Grand Bargain.
What some don’t understand about raising the eligibility age for Medicare, possibly including President Obama, is that there is a savings for the national government but the overall medical care costs increase. One published benchmark is that the national government would save $4 billion but the overall medical care costs would increase by $11 billion.
In the next blog or two I will continue to examine a few other aspects of President Obama’s second inaugural speech.