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Story Archives: Obama starts with poor choices
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|Obama starts with poor choices|
Will Rogers once said that income taxes have made liars out of more men than golf. I guess you add another phrase at the end of that: or the Obama administration.
Former Democratic leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, who had been nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services owed more than $140,000 in back taxes from 2005-07. One question that has stuck in my mind is: if Dashle owed 140K, then how much money did he actually make?
Thank goodness for the hard-hitting media (obviously, I am being satirical). Clearly they are on the forefront of analysis and pushed this administration to make the right decision.
I mean, Anderson Cooper of CNN was deft enough to balance his questions regarding taxes, the stimulus package and future nominations with other noteworthy issues. His included whether the Obama family had picked out a White House dog or not. Other harsh questions probed Obama about whether he had stopped smoking. Maybe during another crisis Cooper could ask Obama about his favorite color or whether he thinks hospitals should serve lime Jell-O with or without pineapple chunks. In fact, he could tie this to health care reform and do an entire week's worth of reporting.
Obama's response to the real questions was to continue comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln (which I still don't see), stating that he "screwed up" and claiming he will continue to "learn on the job."
I guess that learning curve will extend itself to other matters area as well: like support for Israel and fighting terrorism.
But there is more ...
Hours before Dashle quit, Nancy Killefer, the nominee for Chief Performance Officer (Please do not e-mail and ask me what this is; I am still unclear how this position does not conflict with the Chief of Staff), was floored by her own tax problems.
And what about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner? He was required to pay his own tax bills before being sworn in.
Campaign Obama lamented about the lack of transparency and ethics under Bush, but has started off with some exceedingly questionable choices. So why are former lobbyists and tax-dodgers littering the lawn of the White House?
What about Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State? By the way, Sen. David Vitter was right in opposing her nomination. I do not believe that anyone fully understands the relationship her husband and foreign governments has. There should have been more prodding by the 'hard-hitting' media.
But all of this is a mere distraction. The real issue right now is the economic stimulus package.
Republicans have a different approach here. They believe in tax cuts. Democrats typically favor increased spending. But even if Democrats are right on this issue (and I am not conceding that they are), look at some of these measures. How many permanent jobs will be created?
Look at some of these "super-earmarks":
• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STDs.
• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.
• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."
• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.
• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.
• $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.
If $400 million to prevent "the clap" creates a single new job, then you have to wonder about the direction our economy is headed.
I guess on the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi figured it was a Winter Holiday (Sorry, but I can't say Christmas due to her objection to anything that sounds Christian) that often includes presents and an evergreen tree with lights. So she supported your tax dollars going to her pet organizations. I do not believe that most Americans felt the stimulus package should be used to funnel money to Planned Parenthood or ACORN.
In fact, many Americans are beginning to question the stimulus package itself and not just the finer points. Concerns over effectiveness in the near future are being raised.
This week has been a dreadful nightmare for the Obama administration. But a real good one for the American people.
My hope is that in the future, these two things can become the same thing.
John W. Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He also is co-director at the ULM Social Science Research Lab. He can be reached by e-mailing Sutherlin@ulm.edu.