Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Obama should say to disgraced Congress

The 2014 State of the Union address. (photo: Larry Downing/AP)
The 2014 State of the Union address. (photo: Larry Downing/AP)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

19 January 15

resident Obama’s remarks as I would prepare them:

My fellow Americans, disgraced members of Congress, and honored guests.

During my last six State of the Unions, I reached out to the senators and Congress people seated in this room. I presented a vision of hope to you at home. But today I am here to call out the morons who are running this once-revered institution.

You are all more worried about politics than about representing the American people. You are too concerned about raising money for your next campaign to risk offending your donors with legislation that could improve people’s lives. I’m guilty of it too … I have caved to many special interests, like the military industrial complex, big coal, the pharmaceutical companies, big oil, Wall Street, and of course insurance companies. You know what I am talking about. This building we are gathered in today is no longer owned by the people. Each day it is auctioned off to the highest bidder.

In the past I have sent half-assed (yes I said assed, not fast like Verizon) legislation up here. The Affordable Care Act is an example. Half-assed wasn’t good enough. You gutted the bill by removing the public option, which would have been helped control health care costs. The Affordable Care Act is a step forward, but only a half step. I am here to tell you right now, I will sign a repeal of Obamacare. [Republicans go wild.] Hold on … settle down ... Right after I sign a single payer health care bill that covers every American from cradle to grave.

Last week I floated a half-assed proposal for two years of free community college education. Forget that, let’s instead provide a free public university education to anyone who wants one. How do we pay for it? How does Denmark provide free health care and a college education to its citizens. The American people deserve the same investment. We must stop making bankers richer while our young people are burdened with debt for educating themselves. My children and most likely the children of every member of Congress will not be saddled with debt. They have parents who will pay for their education. This is one of the reasons we are so disconnected from the needs of our constituents.

We all make well above the minimum wage. Let me see a show of hands from everyone who thinks they can raise a family on the federal minimum wage. Once again I proposed a half-assed raise in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. I now call on you to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour indexed to the cost of living.

What good is a higher minimum wage without jobs? I have sent some half-assed jobs bills that you have rejected. Your only jobs plan is to build a pipeline though a few states that will provide a few temporary jobs. Let’s rebuild our roads and bridges and build a high speed rail system that will boost our economy, not Canada’s.

It has been a very hot year. In fact the hottest on record. We should do something about climate change, as millions of people clearly told us this year. Too many in this room are either deaf or just don’t care. I know we have reached or are reaching the tipping point, so I will deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s right – pollute your own country, Canada, and leave us out of it. No more half-assed environmental proposals from me. It’s time to transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to renewables. That’s right, that means no more coal. I hear some of you saying nuclear is renewable. The problem is the waste is not disposable. Dirty energy must be replaced by clean, renewable energy sources.

Even I evolved this year on gay marriage. Every single American — gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender — every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition. That includes the right to celebrate their love as a married couple.

I gave a half-assed response to the grand jury’s failure to indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. Racism did not end when I became president. In fact, it came to the surface. Let’s face it: many of you still have not accepted that a black man is president of the United States. We have a long way to go before we will reach racial equality. Race played a role in Ferguson as it does in other police shootings around the country. We must confront that racism head on.

However, race wasn’t the only factor. Our police departments have become increasingly militarized. It does not help when the police roll in like an occupying army. We must demilitarize our police departments.

Economic inequality has also increased the tension in communities. If I were going to make another half-assed economic proposal, I would say I’m going to lower middle taxes and raise taxes on the rich. That’s just politics, not a real plan. We need to raise revenue to pay for my college tuition plan, my new health care proposal, and my infrastructure proposal. It should be a shared sacrifice. A total restructuring of the tax code to insure that everyone pays his fair share.

What if that really happened? What if President Obama really told it like it is? The few remaining stalwart citizens who still watch would call all their friends, jamming phone lines, hope restored. There would be huge headlines in the papers Wednesday morning. “Finally, a beginning – Change we can believe in, and get behind!”

Scott Galindez co-founded truthout and will be reporting on the presidential election from Iowa throughout 2015.

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