Obama has the right ideas, so what is stopping him? So far it’s Republicans and Democrats and the national debt…

President Obama has the right ideas, as presented in his State of the Union message, so what is stopping him or what has stopped him? Answer: bickering in his own party. That is not how political parties are supposed to work. Parties are supposed to be where varying ideas coalesce into action — well we did get health care reform (maybe, to some extent, not sure).

Now it appears that the Republicans are acting like Democrats with a deep schism in their own party — the old guard vs. the Tea Party.

And it now strikes me the day after that the president was certainly right to push for drastic reforms in education with a renewed emphasis on math and science. But I think a lot of the push for that has to come from the people at the local level, the citizens themselves. Do we want excellent public schools or not and do we want to pay for them? Local taxpayers who resist paying the bill for their local schools do not show the commitment that will be needed.

The president is certainly meeting the Republicans half way by offering to make changes in his health care law but not gut it and by offering to cut out the red tape and excessive regulations for businesses without sacrificing public safety and other legitimate public concerns and protections.

I actually think the current division in government with neither solid majorities for the two major parties and the Tea Party (their crazies notwithstanding) nipping at both of their heels, is a good thing. It should force the necessary compromise that might ensure what we get is neither regressive policies or far too so-called progressive policies that would lead to an overbearing socialist state.

But here’s a thought: let’s just stop the constant offense in our defense. We are not fighting international communism anymore. China, our biggest competitor (but also our banker), poses a far bigger challenge than Nikita Khrushchev and his 1950s/60s Soviet Union ever did. Mr. k vowed to bury us (he meant economically, I am told) but old-style communism just has never been up to the challenge (just ask Senor Castro, or maybe he is still in denial). China has combined domestic socialism with a robust form of capitalism, proving that it may not be an either or situation (and no I don’t want to live in China).

Islamic terrorists have replaced the communist threat, but like the communists if they get control over various dominions they will have a hard time keeping their people happy when they see how the other half, the free half, lives. Instead of meddling in the affairs of other nations we ought to let them stew in their own juices.

We of course do have to draw the line when they come on to our own soil.

I feel so fortunate, though, at 61 to have a steady job. But unemployment is above 9 percent and in my state, California, it is I believe 12 percent. That remains the number-one concern of the American people. If Obama, with the help of his own party and the other, cannot deal effectively with that situation, people just won’t be listening anymore.

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What follows is what I originally wrote offline while having computer problems:

So maybe not having my computer working the way I want to helps me sort out what I just heard, rather than going to a lot of hurried work to post what I think or thought I just heard from President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech.

I listened to the speech on radio so I did not see the body language of the speaker or the audience and I did not get to witness the coziness of Democrats sitting next to Republicans, unlike in past years when they sat on their respective separate sections. But I liked the speech as I heard it, enough to move him from a C to an A.

And then some of the commentary afterward jolted me awake, so to speak, and I wondered if I had not been in a dream and gone back to his presidential campaign. They seem to be reminding me that he was in his campaign mode — he’s a great speaker, but is he a great doer? — the last two years seem to leave that question a bit open. And of course the main thing is that he cannot do it alone. Up until recently, the health care thing notwithstanding, or maybe withstanding, he was having a hard time getting his own party to go along with him. Now he is dealing with a Republican majority in the House.

Obama I think in one way is in that time of the JFK thing where the question is do we cling to the ways of the past and stay mired in stagnation or do we move forward. Kennedy’s answer, as I recall, was that we “move forward with vigor “. At the time we had been recently embarrassed by the Russians seeming to have surpassed us in space by launching the first man-made satellite they called Sputnik. Kennedy instituted our moon program, the rest is history.

With that in mind Barack Obama said we (the United States) are in a Sputnik moment where we can fall behind the rest of the world in technology (and he said we are indeed beginning to lag in some areas, particularly education in math and science) or we can maintain or retain our world leadership.

But I sense a new mood among the populace. At one time a lot of people assumed government had endless resources, but now even people who think government ought to be there to help them and see a major role of government in society now see the nation’s gigantic deficit a major limiting force.

So even though Obama talked about a government partnership with the private sector in which the government would give financial support for new innovations — he said sometimes businesses cannot afford to fund research and development on their own — people now wonder where all that money is going to come from in the continuing stagnant world economy (not to be confused with corporate or bank profits which are reportedly soaring — I know it makes little sense, except when you remember that people make a lot of money producing nothing, just trading paper, I call it. A minority at the top feed like parasites off the working class, just as a minority at the bottom of society feed off the working class).

But if we get past all that there are two major competing views in politics: one is that there is a major role of government in society and the economy and the other is that government should have but a limited role, except that I have yet to see evidence that those who talk limited role are all that sincere (with the exception of pure libertarians, maybe,) My view is that those who talk limited role really mean government should be there for them, but not for you.

Somehow I don’t think the United States became the leading economic and military power in the world with minimal government.

It was a government and private enterprise partnership that created the railroads that expanded our nation west to meet its manifest destiny. It was the government that ran the space program which in turn had major implications on technology and commerce that it spawned. And don’t let me forget Ike’s interstate highway system — that’s how I and so many others make their living, that’s how you get everything you get at the stores.

Just as in the time of Sputnik when there was a major push for improved math and science education, Obama wants to start that all over again. And that is a good idea.

We need to move forward with vigor, we just have not figured out how to pay for it.

One way, though, is to simplify the tax code cutting out all the loopholes that help some but overtax others, as Obama called for, and by doing so widen the tax base — yes in effect increasing taxes but also making the system more equitable.

 

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