George Graham

You’ll Have to Choose, America!

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President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night minced no words. Here is what I want, he told Congress. Work with me to figure out how to get it done or face my veto.

For example, he promised to veto any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act or  his executive order shielding some undocumented immigrants from deportation. And he made it clear that any attempt to increase sanctions on Iran, despite the apparent success of ongoing negotiations, would not get past his desk.

You and I know the Republicans are not going to work with the President to realize his agenda. They have an agenda of their own and it is vastly different from his.

They have been equally clear in declaring their goals.

Republicans want less government, lower taxes, more economic freedom. Leave our money in our pockets, they say, and the economy will flourish; take our money in taxes and the government will waste it.

Democrats believe that in a country of more than 300 million diverse people, the government can sometimes do a better job than individuals and corporations in providing the shared services society needs.

Obviously, there is little common ground between those views, and I don’t think the President will achieve much of his agenda in the next two years. Now that they control both the House and the Senate, Republicans will focus on undoing what the President has managed to get done, not on helping America’s middle class.

As  he pointed out, President Obama has made a significant difference during his first four years – despite relentless Republican opposition. Unemployment is down to 5.6 percent… Millions of the previously uninsured have health insurance… The stock market is booming… Corporations are bringing jobs back home… American troops are no longer fighting in Afghanistan.

And he declared:

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Yes it’s time to choose, indeed. But not this year.

Congress is not going to see the light and work with him to provide free community college education… or to increase tax rates for families making more than half a million dollars a year… or to subsidize daycare for working mothers… or to lower student loan interest rates, or to launch a major road and bridge building program… or to protect the global financial system from another devastating crisis…

Those are not programs Republicans support. They see a different future for America, one that’s built on home schooling and charter schools, lower taxes for the rich, a hands-off approach to Wall Street… and slashing such programs as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, early childhood education, subsidized school lunches, and even food stamps.

Help the rich get richer and their spending will benefit the rest of us, Republicans say. (Yes, it’s the same old trickle-down theory.)

The two agendas are mutually exclusive. And America must decide which path to follow.

Not now of course.  The time to choose will come in the 2016 elections. And it will be the American people – the voters – who make that choice.

Click for the speech.

Click for the GOP response.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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