Tomorrow, Tuesday, President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union address in which he will outline his goals for the nation for the coming year and beyond. Over the weekend, he posted an online preview video. It's only four minutes:
Did you get all the way to the end? Crabby Old Lady sympathizes; she forced herself to do it for this post. Here is the short version:
- Increase competition
- Grow the economy
- Create jobs
- More innovation
- Better education
- Decrease deficit
- Reform government
- Yada yada yada
All that is as unhelpfully abstract as it has been for the past two years and long before that too. To the degree any of it has meaning, here is what it has given us:
- Corporate profits higher than they have ever been
- 23 percent of income going to the top one percent of earners; up from nine percent to that group in the late 1970s
- Continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
- The largest number of unemployed for the longest period of time since the Great Depression
- Continued stagnant, even falling, wages for those who are working
- Record number of home foreclosures in 2010 with predictions for a larger number in 2011
- Public school closings throughout the states
- Cutbacks to fire and police departments throughout the land
- Increased state and city taxes
- Rising food and gasoline prices
There is more, but you get the idea: everything that has been done in Washington for the past two years benefits corporations and the wealthy with barely discernible crumbs for everyone else.
Crabby dislikes one of those crumbs – the payroll tax holiday. Giving back two percent to workers from their FICA contribution sounds good, but it amounts to about $10 per paycheck for most people and deprives Social Security of tens of millions of dollars at a time when the oldest baby boomers are signing up for the program with more of them in the pipeline.
Plus, it is unlikely to expire after a year – Congress will call that a tax increase – which will further endanger Social Security at a time when it needs to be strengthened.
According to a couple of New York Times reporters on Sunday discussing probable points Obama will make in the speech, he is
”unlikely...to embrace the recommendations of a bipartisan majority on the debt-reduction commission [aka the cat food commission] he created, which proposed slashing projected annual deficits through 2020 with deep cuts in domestic and military spending, changes to Social Security and Medicare...”
Unlikely? Crabby Old Lady will be listening closely on the subject of those two elder programs Tuesday evening. Many politicians and economists have called for raising the retirement age but one respected economist, James K. Galbraith, has made a strong argument for lowering it.
Not that President Obama will consider it. Much has been made, since Obama's “shellacking” in the November election, that he is making the right choice by moving more to the political center. Center? If he were any more to the right, he'd be Eric Cantor.
Okay, Crabby exaggerates, but not by much. The past two years were spent giving zillions of dollars to banks and since that, apparently, is not business-friendly enough for rich, whiny bankers and corporate leaders, a couple of weeks ago Obama appointed Gene Sperling as his new Chief White House Economic Adviser.
This is the guy who, during the Clinton administration, had a big hand in repealing the Glass-Steagall Act which many believe helped cause the subprime mortgage crisis.
Then on Friday, Obama appointed the CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, to head his new White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. According to one of GE's websites, the number of U.S. jobs at GE has dropped by 27,000 since 2005, while overseas jobs increased by 16,000 although in the past year, the company shed 17,000 foreign jobs. Can you hear the sound of off-shoring?
In the biennial White House game of musical chairs, the same people with different names get seats.
The real reason for these appointments (and other pro-business ones), according to some, is that the Obama re-election campaign needs to raise a billion dollars (!) and they're not going to get that from 10- and 20-dollar donations from voters – especially since so many former supporters are disappointed and feel disenfranchised after these past two years.
So as far as Crabby can see, the idea seems to be to give rich business leaders powerful positions where they can further enrich corporations and themselves through more deregulation and tax breaks.
Then they'll get all their wealthy friends at other corporations (remember, there is no longer any limit on corporate support for candidates) to donate the funds to keep Obama in office for another four years during which time the status quo will continue.
The single biggest thing desperately needed by the economy and the American people are big, bold, new ideas for good-paying jobs, jobs, jobs. People in large numbers back at work and paying taxes again are the answer to a large part of the nation's woes.
Crabby suspects that if there were going to be anything big and bold and new from this president, we would have seen it already and she doesn't expect much of that tomorrow night. She fervently hopes she is wrong.
SPECIAL NOTE: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears poised to approve a new brain scan test that can show the plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease in a living brain. Although there is no known treatment for this terrible disease, it might help physicians and patients plan for the future.
Tomorrow, the TGB Geriatrician, Dr. Bill Thomas, and dementia expert, Dr. Al Power, will discuss the ethics of early diagnosis of Alzheimers in a live internet presentation. You can watch it here at 11:30AM eastern U.S. time.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Alan Stewart: An Encounter with a Big and Bobbing Adam's Apple