Promises and Realities

Posted: August 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | Comments Off on Promises and Realities

Let me preface by saying that back in 2000 I would have classified myself as a “McCain Republican”. Nowaday, however, I am feeling less loyal to Senator Johnny Mac, as his ideas are taking a back-burner to the party platform. I think my devotion hinges on who he selects for a running mate, as someone like Colin Powell (my personal preference) or Rudy Guilianni would show a more international slant, and a stark opposition to the policies of the Neo-Cons. Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, however, would seem like Dick Cheany: The Sequel; and don’t even get me started on the idea of Joe Liebermann.

That said, I am far from entertained by the bait-and-switch that is the Obama-theory. Yes, Obama is well spoken, but that’s far from being a measuring stick by which to see if someone should be President. My thoughts are that electing Obama would result in the Democrat version of W. Bush. A young candidate with no experience who’d be in over his head and end up a puppet-President to the powers behind him. In the meantime, we’ll get promises like those in the article below (taken from the Assosciated Press via Yahoo)

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination Thursday night
with a lofty vision for the nation’s future that is far easier to articulate
than to accomplish.

The next occupant of the White House will inherit a half-trillion-dollar budget
deficit that will severely crimp any plans for spending on new programs, as well
as the messy endgame of the war in Iraq and growing energy and health-care
challenges. A look at Obama’s promises and the realities he would

The promise: Obama has pledged to attack the weak economy with another stimulus plan to follow the $168 billion package of tax rebates for individuals and tax breaks for businesses that
Congress passed last February. Obama’s stimulus would include tax rebates, aid to state and local governments and increased spending for infrastructure projects. He would also increase spending in other areas such as alternative energy programs. Obama promised to “go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.”

The problem: Obama’s spending plans and middle-class tax relief will collide with the hard reality of exploding budget deficits. The Congressional Budget Office projects this year’s deficit will hit $400 billion, driven higher by the weak economy and the stimulus program Congress has already passed. And the Bush administration is forecasting that next year’s imbalance
will hit an all-time high of $482 billion.

The promise: A short-term rebate of $1,000 per couple to help with rising energy costs; release of up to 70 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and investment of $15 billion a year over the next decade to encourage renewable energy, clean-coal technology and
electric cars. “In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East,” Obama said.

The problem: The next president will take the oath of office in January and confront an immediate crisis: The cost of heating homes is likely to be at record levels. Obama’s promised rebate relies on enactment of a windfall profits tax on big oil companies, which could take months and is by no means sure to get through Congress. The last time the nation had such a tax, from 1980 to 1988, U.S. reliance on foreign oil went up. His longer-term solution, encouraging alternative energy by creating a $150 billion clean energy fund, relies for financing on a program of selling pollution allowances to combat global warming that is even more uncertain.

The promise: Obama says he would engage both allies and adversaries to repair the U.S. image
abroad and regain leverage and leadership that he says Bush squandered. He says he will marshal international pressure against Iran, boost U.S. efforts against extremists along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and get a faster and firmer start on Middle East peacemaking. He vowed to “renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.”

The problem: The United States has already reversed many policies other nations saw as isolationist or bullying — for example, by joining international diplomatic efforts with “axis of evil” nations Iran and North Korea. Obama would continue those efforts and others without any greater guarantee of success. Any U.S. administration wanting to step up activity in Pakistan will face strong resistance from Pakistani authorities and probably pay the price for violating its sovereignty by seeing cooperation cut back.

The promise: Pull all U.S. combat forces out of Iraq within 16 months, send more combat troops to Afghanistan and provide better care for wounded troops and veterans. “John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war,” Obama said. “That’s not the judgment we need.”

The problem: A troop pullout is feasible and conforms roughly to a withdrawal timetable advocated by the Iraqi government. But a 16-month timetable risks shifting responsibility to Iraq’s security forces before they are ready, and it gives the insurgents an explicit target date for waiting out the Americans. Until forces are pulled from Iraq, there are none to bolster the force in Afghanistan. Balancing needs in those two countries will be an immediate challenge for the next president. There is a broad consensus on the need for more troops to combat an emboldened insurgency in Afghanistan and to train government troops there, but the trick is to accomplish that without giving up gains against the insurgency in Iraq and without robbing combat-weary soldiers and Marines of the rest periods they need. Caring for veterans and the wounded entails enormous costs, and the scope of the health care requirements for returning troops is not yet fully known.

The promise: An $18 billion plan that would encourage, but not mandate, universal pre-kindergarten; teacher pay raises tied to, although not based solely on, test scores; an overhaul of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law to better measure student progress, make room for noncore subjects like music and art and be less punitive toward failing schools, and a tax credit to pay up to $4,000 of college costs for students who perform 100 hours of community service a year. “Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy,” Obama said.

The problem: With the budget stretched thin, a huge infusion of cash for early childhood education or college costs seems unlikely. Federal spending on education has already been rising for more than a decade. Congress and the White House will be in no hurry to tackle No Child Left
Behind, which was due for a rewrite in 2007; the economy, the war and health care are stickier and more pressing concerns.

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