The Edmond Sun

Opinion

February 20, 2013

An unrealistic State of the Union address

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama’s State of the Union address was even more disappointing than his inauguration speech. Once again, the president disregarded the gravity of our economic challenges and outlined an old-school liberal agenda that is utterly out of step with our problems.

The federal government is drowning in debt, and the president is proposing more spending in the guise of “investments” for our future. President Obama’s laundry list of expensive programs might not be so out of place in the booming 1950s or the surplus 1990s. But in 2012, we’re facing a bleak economic outlook of high unemployment and a diminished standard of living unless we get our $16 trillion debt under control.

Debt reduction is the defining issue of this decade, yet the president continues to avoid proposing serious, specific solutions. Instead of taking the opportunity to be honest with the American people about the magnitude of our fiscal challenges and the danger they pose to Medicare and Social Security, President Obama largely ignored tough issues in favor of “modest reform” ideas and false promises that require spending we can’t afford.

In a one-hour speech, the president spent roughly 5 minutes discussing debt reduction. While acknowledging that “the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population,” President Obama again refused to show leadership on this urgent issue. It is stunning that the president’s most significant action to address debt reduction was to appoint the Simpson-Bowles commission to study the issue and even more outrageous that he has refused to embrace any of its recommendations. 

The State of the Union speech was an ideal opportunity to endorse some of the commission’s specific structural reforms to prevent Medicare’s certain bankruptcy in 11 years. Instead, the president tepidly suggested alternative “reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.”

The president went on to explain that these “reforms” involve reducing Medicare payments to doctors and prescription drug providers. Not only does this impractical suggestion not solve Medicare’s structural problems, it actually makes the situation worse by jeopardizing seniors’ access to care. Many physicians have already stopped treating Medicare patients because reimbursement rates are 20 percent lower than rates for patients covered by private health plans. The gradual exodus is sure to become a stampede if payments are reduced further.

President Obama concluded his brief discussion of debt reduction by stating that he is “open to additional reforms from both parties.” With all due respect, being “open to” solutions is not the path to bold presidential leadership. President Franklin Roosevelt was not just “open to” overcoming the Great Depression, and President Reagan wasn’t “open to” ending the Cold War. These leaders achieved historic progress because they led.

America is in the midst of a budget crisis that will become a full-scale debt crisis unless we act soon. President Obama needs to understand that the campaign is over and it’s time to show political courage and work with House Republicans to achieve real progress on balancing the budget.

U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results