Reactionarying the State of the Union

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I confess – it was the first State of the Union I’d missed in years. Jet-lagged from a quick transatlantic trip to mourn the loss of a dear relative, I didn’t make it past 9:15.

Like the vast majority of Americans, I learned about the SOTU that which American major media think was important. Obama got in a zinger. Free community college. A focus on strengthening the middle class.

I also learned this about the SOTU, from my congressman, Chris “ObamaPelosi” Collins:

“Once again, President Obama used his annual national address to double down on divisive political rhetoric and unrealistic ideas. Rather than focus on policies that brighten the future of the middle class in a sustainable manner, the President has instead, sabotaged success and pitted Americans against one another. The President continues to advocate class warfare, and divide our country. He has repeatedly demonstrated that his idea of a bipartisan solution is his way or the highway.

Know thyself, Collins.

“What the President failed to address was that this past election, the country spoke loud and clear about the direction we need to take. The result was the strongest Republican House majority since the 1920s, a Republican Senate majority, and Republican control of 68 out of 98 state legislative chambers. Americans recognize that Republicans are focused on creating an environment friendly to job creation through comprehensive tax reform, energy independence, entitlement reform and a patient centered health care system. The President needs to accept this new reality, and find a way to unify the country as we move forward.”

Collins’ staff likely crafted that carefully and well in advance of its delivery or release. Let’s examine it, alongside what was discussed in the President’s speech.

Once again, President Obama used his annual national address to double down on divisive political rhetoric and unrealistic ideas.

I’m a big fan of “ideas”, whether they be realistic or not. For instance, it was pretty unrealistic for President Kennedy to declare that by 1969, the US would land a man on the moon and safely bring him home. Indeed, the very notion of “America” as it was founded and constituted was pretty unrealistic for its time. “Unrealistic” is seldom the opposite of “good”, when modifying the word “ideas”. “Divisive political rhetoric” isn’t really something a politician “doubles down” on – it’s what they do. Mr. Collins’ statement is no different. Pot calling the kettle black, one might say.

Rather than focus on policies that brighten the future of the middle class in a sustainable manner, the President has instead, sabotaged success and pitted Americans against one another.

The big announcements from the 2015 SOTU were things like free community college for any American kid who needs it (with certain pre-requisities);  Congress should lift the failed Cuban trade embargo;  Congress should properly authorize and fund the fight against Daesh; Obama will veto Republican moves to restrict abortion rights, repeal Obamacare, hinder immigration reforms, or authorize the Keystone Pipeline; Congress should help the President overhaul business taxes, conclude trade deals, and fix crumbling infrastructure; we should combat climate change, reform our immigration system, and enhance competition for cable and internet service. Congress should raise the capital gains tax from 23.8 to 28% and eliminate a tax dodge that the wealthy exploit. pass paid leave for workers, as well as more generously fund education, child care and retirement savings for the middle class. These would be financed by tax increases on millionaires and fees paid by large banks and investment firms.

In other words, President Obama wants to incrementally raise taxes paid by the well-to-do to help the poor and not-so-well-to-do get educated, insured, and employed.

I didn’t see it, but a correspondent advises that Collins went on WGRZ and claimed that Americans pay the highest taxes in the world. If that’s really what he thinks, he’s ignorant. If it isn’t, he’s just lying. Our tax burden doesn’t remotely come close to being the highest in the world. Aruba is the highest, followed closely by the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark. Just lies.

The President continues to advocate class warfare, and divide our country. He has repeatedly demonstrated that his idea of a bipartisan solution is his way or the highway.

This is one of those things that Collins’ base likes to hear – that socialist Kenyan Indonesian racist n0bummer is waging class warfare, because he expects the rich to contribute more to help fund America’s international wars and its domestic attempts to help the middle class. They loved the wars – they just don’t want to pay for it, so they throw around “class warfare” while advocating for policies that disproportionately help people with millions – like Chris Collins – and do palpable and real harm to the middle class. The real war has been the war waged by the rich against the poor and middle class, and if we’re going to demand an end to that war, we should at least be consistent.

Make no mistake – Chris Collins is accusing President Obama of waging “class warfare” because he wants to repeal things like the trust fund loophole, which helps the rich and does nothing for anyone else. He wants to block tax credits for average working families because employees don’t matter – only “job creators” do, and then we can continue to follow the false and discredited dream of supply side / “trickle down” economics.

What the President failed to address was that this past election, the country spoke loud and clear about the direction we need to take. The result was the strongest Republican House majority since the 1920s, a Republican Senate majority, and Republican control of 68 out of 98 state legislative chambers.

And the country spoke loud and clear when it re-elected President Obama and rejected Collins clone Mitt Romney. Since the tea partiers to whom Collins panders love to think themselves constitutionalists, let’s talk about divided government and the power of the veto.

But even worse, those sentences look like something Buffalo News political columnist Bob McCarthy would have written – all horse race, all the time. For instance, the people in the 27th district had no legitimate choice in November, but in NY-26, they resoundingly rejected the craven hatemonger in favor of the thoughtful, intellectual incumbent. So, the “country” didn’t speak loud and clear about anything because Congress is divided into separate districts, and the people in those districts each voted a certain way.  But if Collins is suggesting a switch a party-dominated parliamentary system, let’s roll with that.

Americans recognize that Republicans are focused on creating an environment friendly to job creation through comprehensive tax reform, energy independence, entitlement reform and a patient centered health care system. The President needs to accept this new reality, and find a way to unify the country as we move forward.”

There were tax reform initiatives in the President’s address. The unemployment rate in late 2014 outperforms what Mitt Romney promised would happen under him in 2016, and if we hadn’t cut the hell out of public payrolls, the rate would be lower still. In fact, private employment growth has been record-breaking. Seriously, the news in December was great – 2014 was the best year for creating jobs since 1999 – the drop in the unemployment rate from 2013 to 2014 was the most dramatic since 1984. Wages were up, and the construction and health care sector were outperforming others.

Wait – health care?! I was told that Obamacare was going to ruin our health care system. I do, however, applaud Representative Collins’ apparent change of heart and support for a Medicare for all – the only type that could truly be “patient centered”, as it would take private insurance out of the health care delivery equation.

I understand that Chris Collins’ job is to throw shade at President Obama and librulz, and that his base in an overwhelmingly Republican district is hungry for this sort of jejune red meat. He’s just doing what he was elected to do.

Lie, and protect the millionaires.

One comment

  • Chris Collins was on Dave Debo’s show a couple Sundays ago. The guy makes no sense to me. I assume he is smart, having built a business so all I can conclude is he has just become a Republican suckup.
    For instance he rants about Obama’s immigration executive order being illegal, and then as an aside admits it really is a Republican idea that he stole. So in the end the Republicans have what they wanted in the first place, at least according to him. He also ranted about social security as if it was Obama’s fault it may go broke IN 22 YEARS if nothing is done. The system needs a tweak that it isn’t getting as long as Republicans rebuff every thing the president tries to achieve. He also broke out the old canard about it being a ponzi scheme, which to a callers credit was nicely refuted. As an aside, I just signed up for a 100k term life insurance plan for ten years at $600 per year. If I tip over in that ten year window I’ll have paid but a fraction of the pay out. Is life insurance a ponzi scheme as well?

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