The Right Opinion

The Speech President Obama Should Give

By Linda Chavez · Jan. 18, 2013

President Obama's second inaugural address will be full of lofty sentiments and promises to move us forward. But I'd like to suggest that instead of eloquent and uplifting rhetoric, the president do something unexpected and brave. What if he actually spoke frankly to the American people about the sacrifices that are needed from all of us if we are to secure our future and salvage our character?

During the presidential campaign, the president said a lot about the need for the wealthy among us to pay their “fair share” in taxes. Bolstered by his electoral victory, he was able to win concessions by Republicans in the form of tax increases. Wealthier Americans will pay higher tax rates on income and investments. And everyone who works has already seen his or her payroll taxes go back up to their previous rate of 12.4 percent beginning Jan. 1 (half of which is deducted from paychecks and half sent directly to the IRS from the employer on the employee's behalf).

But taxes aren't the only – or best – way for us to share in the sacrifices necessary for the country to get back on the right path. The truth is, we've become an entitlement nation. President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” But lately it seems many of us care more about the former than the latter.

Seniors feel entitled to automatic increases in their Social Security checks, even if their actual cost of living goes up less than the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners, which is what adjustments are made on now. They want better drug coverage and limitless access to doctors, even if it's for the sniffles or minor aches and pains. And virtually all seniors think they've already paid for these entitlements through their payroll and Medicare taxes, even though the average retiree today will receive $72,000 more in benefits than he contributed into the system.

The middle class wants small class sizes for their school-age children, paid for the Uncle Sam or their local government – even though research shows little to no direct relationship between educational achievement and smaller class size. Instead of saving for kids go to college, many families now depend on government loans at low interest rates. The middle class also wants to keep their deductions for interest on their home mortgage loans, and if they get behind in their payments they want to be bailed out by the government.

The unemployed want benefits to extend for months – combined state and federal benefits for some workers in 2013 will cover 73 weeks of unemployment. Not only does this discourage people from looking for work until their benefits are about to run out, but it hurts workers' chances of finding jobs the longer they're out of the workforce.

And more and more Americans now qualify for programs that once existed to help the poor or disabled, including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Medicaid. In some states, food stamp recipients include families whose incomes are over 200 percent of poverty. More alarmingly, a recent Senate study of those on SSDI, found that 25 percent of the supposedly disabled had conflicting, absent or contradictory evidence of their disability. Drug abuse and alcoholism that interfere with the ability to work make many people eligible for SSI, SSDI and food stamps. Congress has tried to prevent benefits going to those who are currently abusing drugs or alcohol; but those restrictions don't work well, and the number of current abusers who receive federal benefits continues to increase.

President Obama could choose to talk about what to do about these problems. During the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling debates, he's been unwilling to offer any serious cuts in spending, beyond defense and lower payments to Medicare providers. But, according to some estimates, more than 70 percent of the federal budget now goes for government dependency programs. And about a third of Americans receive support from these programs – which undermines the notion that we are a self-reliant people.

Admittedly, challenging all Americans to think about what sacrifices they can make for their country's future would be an about face for this president. But if he had the courage, he'd go down in history for speaking the truth instead of telling people what they want to hear. It's called leadership.

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11 Comments

Lee in Phoenix said:

It appears President Obama thinks leadership's validation is to be the last man standing who accepts unconditional surrender of the enemy.

I believe he also thinks one result of total annihilation of conservatism while forcing America down onto the world's "level playing field" will be that support will emerge for his preferred destiny, global leadership.

Actually try to fix the system he detests? When pigs fly.

The country is steady on course at good speed for the destination he and his mob have chosen.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 7:53 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

More wishful thinking concerning Chairman Obamao. If he were to come clean and actually express his vision of America; Bankrupcy, crisis of colapse, martial law, Gun confiscation, and the replacement of the Constitution in favor of a Marxist Statist Utopia ruled by him and his elite, for the people to be forever slaves to the state, he would be imprisoned for the traitor he truely is.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 10:28 AM

sfj in Alabama said:

"Seniors feel entitled to automatic increases in their Social Security checks, even if their actual cost of living goes up less than the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners, which is what adjustments are made on now. They want better drug coverage and limitless access to doctors, even if it's for the sniffles or minor aches and pains. And virtually all seniors think they've already paid for these entitlements through their payroll and Medicare taxes, even though the average retiree today will receive $72,000 more in benefits than he contributed into the system." This statement is very misleading. Sure, I believe that I deserve my SS, after I paid in for over 50 years, either I get what they say I earned or give me back all of the money I sent in with INTEREST. As for cost of living, I believe the last adjustment was 1% - hardly indicative of the real number because, as liars in the government do all the time, they removed items such as food, clothing and gas from the COLA "marketing basket". What about welfare/medicaid/SNAP cards/TANF/free school lunches/free childcare/ETC given to healthy able body adults sitting on their a$$ and watching television or shopping at the malls. What about farm subsidies to giant corporate owned farms? What about trimming the DOD (GOD knows it could stand a haircut)? How about doing away with student loans? How about shutting down useless agencies like the EPA or Dept. of Commerce or the biggest waste the Dept. of education? I'm damn sick and tired of SS/Medicare Beneficiaries being blamed for the fiscal problems the country is experiencing

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Roland E. Otte in Elizabethton, Tennessee replied:

well said indeed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 7:45 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Here's what I believe we will get in the next State of the Union address: more lies, more deceit, more proposed programs to reduce our freedoms, more anti-Constiutional power grabs, more suggestions that America's conservatives are potential terrorists, more appointments of left-wing radicals and yes men, and a big helping of hate for the conservative half of America.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

That crap about Social Security recepients is nothing more than to shift the blame to the elderly and not to the healthy, lazy, good-for-nothing scum existing on welfare. Why should a senior have to take a cut in benefits or not get a raise when no mention is ever made by the POS's in Washington of cutting welfare? That old couple existing on Social Security alone is not living high on the hog and I suspect not as well as "Baby Mama's" with their 2 or 3 kids all with different last names. Set a short time limit (6 months) on welfare benefits and when it runs out kick their lazy asses out of the system. The people who get up and go to work everyday should have more money in their paychecks to spend on their own families and not the idiots who thinks the rest of us owe them a living.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:45 AM

HP in KAlispell, MT said:

Linda,
I agree with the crux of your piece but I have a MAJOR bone to pick! As an official geezer living off the SS plantation, I DO feel entitled to COLA adjustments to keep up with inflation. I like most of my fellow geezers paid for this entitlement since I was 16 years old. When I began paying in, the retirement age was 65. When I neared retirement it had been raised to 66. If I will receive more than I paid in, that's not my problem; I didn't invent this plan, vote for it or have a choice to opt out of it. Now you think I'm selfish for wanting to be able to live on this. By the way, Obama didn't get the memo on the AUTOMATIC increases. We have had none during his reign until this year (election). During these years my cost of living has gone up as much or more than urban area residents. I guess you think we rubes in rural areas don't need as much money as you in the urban centers. Having spent most of my life living in the largest urban centers in the world, I can assure you that the "lower cost of living" in rural areas is a myth. If you think you have to spend so much more to live than I, here's a clue: get some luggage!

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Joel in Ohio said:

Linda, are you on drugs? The Pres will never think about cutting spending, let alone talking about it at his inauguration. Why would he cut spending, when he can send money to his crony, green energy companies who are going bankrupt and help fund his campaign coffers? No one complains about this morally reprehensible practice, but would rather explain that seniors and other responsible citizens should suffer. Let's investigate the funding of the latest campaigner-in-chief's strategy and report where the money is coming from for his PAC, if you want to write opinions that matter.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Mindblown in Flyover USA said:

Linda, oh Linda. I really thought you were trying satire in this article, then realized you were off in the clouds of wishful thinking. Where to start??

1. You're assuming "o" really wants the US on the right track to economic growth, lower unemployment, national security, self-reliance, individual responsbility, etc. Where have you been the last 4 yrs.?

2. Most of current seniors receiving SS benefits were not around when the program was started, didn't make the rules about COLA increases, not allowed to opt out unless we worked for the govt. So don't blame us for wanting/expecting what was promised. Blame the govt (LBJ & his congress) for unlocking the "lock box" and spending all the money. The same with Medicare -- not something we demanded.

3. Smaller class sizes? It wasn't the parents demanding the smaller class sizes -- it was the teachers unions. Most parents would be happy to pay for their kids college costs. How about getting the colleges and universities to reduce the costs? Charge what it actually costs not the bloated amount they can get with govt funding. They also have endowment funds to be used for the expenses they're shafting the parents for. Actually, the interest rates on student loans aren't that low.

4. If people get behind with their mortgages they want govt to bail them out? Huh? I don't recall a big cry out or march on DC to get bail outs. I recall "o" and libs calling for that. Remember, it was the dems insisting that banks give unqualified people loans for houses they couldn't afford.

5. People DEMANDING extended unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps, etc., etc.??? Again, there was no march on DC. Progressives/liberals/dems DECIDED it would be so caring and compassionate to give these goodies out with very relaxed qualifications. It made THEM feel better. It was not done "for the good" of the people or the nation.

So, with the elitist "I know better than you what you want or need" progressives handing out all the goodies and humans being humans it is natural to accept whatever is offered. And, yes, this is what 'o' and his ilk intend -- more people dependent on govt. Don't expect anything nearing a JFK speech or vision for this country from this bozo -- it's not in his nature.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Roland E. Otte in Elizabethton, Tennessee said:

Linda Chavez, go do some serious research.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 7:46 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Even if the Marxist lying B@st@rd Kase, said "My fellow Amerikans, Now I'll follow the Reagan-Friedman Blueprint, for growth,"---No one on our side of the aisle would TRUST OR BELIEVE THE POTUS POS!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 10:48 AM