If I Were President Obama…….
"I Don't Mind A Parasite. I Object To A Cut-Rate One."
...I’d like to think I’d do some things differently – and in so doing, my “negatives” wouldn’t be so low, and my party would actually be looking forward to the November elections. Obviously, I’m not President Obama – but if I were, my most important goal all along would have been to establish a bi-partisan foundation for a successful presidency. Here’s how I would have done it:
As President Obama, people have said that one of my strongest points is my ability to communicate. From day one of my presidency, I would have sent a clear and consistent bi-partisan message to my political opposition: Work together and we reap the rewards together. “Business as usual” equals do-nothing politics, and gets us nothing but wrath and scorn from our constituencies.
I would have delivered that message early, often, and IN PERSON. I would have scheduled a closed-door, sit-down meeting with the Republican congressional leadership as soon as possible after my inauguration and my cabinet was assembled. Here’s essentially what I – as President Obama - would have said:
*”I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. And you’re not. I was elected with a popular vote margin which approached double-digits, and an electoral vote margin which more than doubled that of my opponent. We all know that my electoral vote count qualifies as a “landslide.” As for the 50 United States, I carried nearly 60% of ‘em, and whether you Republicans think so or not, I believe I have a “mandate” from the people. And most importantly – a hell of a lot of our fellow citizens believe that I have a mandate. That mandate is further reinforced by the fact that my party now controls majorities in both the Senate and the House. So for all practical purposes – for the next two years at least - I OWN Congress, and I’ll pretty much be able to do whatever I want.
In short, we (the Democrats) just whipped your behinds. But that’s not my reason for calling you here, and that’s not my message to you today. My message today is: the people of the United States elected me to give them change they can believe in, and that’s what I fully intend to do.
*I AM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN. I’m stating the obvious, but I want you to understand my frame of reference, and understand what my motivation will be for some of what I intend to do over the next four years. I am married to an African-American; I talk daily to African-Americans; African-Americans voted overwhelmingly to give me this job; and I believe African-Americans are one of my key constituencies. I owe them – just as I owe every American – my best. I intend to do everything I can to improve the quality of life for all Americans, but you need to understand that African-Americans have a very special place in my heart. I am particularly attuned to issues related to African-Americans, and I intend to make their life better. This will not detract from my job as President – but it will guide some of my actions. All of you need to understand this.
(NOTE: For more about this, see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/africanamericans
*HERE ARE MY PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. All presidents make campaign promises, and I intend to try to keep most of mine. But these are my TOP priorities:
--Restore our economy to its earlier, vibrant state. Jobs and economic growth will be my Number 1 priority. With healthy job growth and a sound economy, everything else becomes easier. A lot of our social problems become far less difficult to manage when our economy is closer to full employment. When people have jobs and they can feed, clothe and shelter their families, a lot of other things fall into place.
To this end, I have instructed my advisors to provide me with the key elements for proposed legislation which will move this country toward full employment. These elements will include but not be limited to economic stimulus for both large and small businesses; comprehensive tax reform to encourage domestic investment and business growth; and other incentives to both large and small businesses with a primary objective to GROW JOBS AND GROW THE ECONOMY. We are coming out of tough economic times (insert “Blame Bush” comment here), so there’s no way to go but up. Together we should be able to make a lot of progress.
--I am concerned about the state of health care in this country. I am concerned about the uninsured generally, but I’m particularly concerned about young people and those who can’t get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. WE ARE GOING TO FIX THIS PROBLEM. As I mentioned earlier, I have a mandate, and I have the legislative muscle to ram any health care reform I want through the system if I have to. But I’d much rather work WITH you (the Republicans), and in so doing we can all share the credit.
To this end, I have instructed my advisors to provide me with the key elements for proposed legislation which will solve what I believe to be the significant deficiencies in our health care system. We need to take care of people with pre-existing conditions, and we need to get people who see their health insurance as “pay-as-you-go” trips to the emergency room some REAL insurance. There are others who really need an improved health care arrangement, and we’ll make sure we take care of them. But WE’LL LEAVE EVERYONE ELSE ALONE. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” will be our motto. But one way or the other, we are going to get this done
(NOTE: I’d also go over my other objectives – foreign policy, homeland security, defense, social programs, etc., but from the above I’m sure you get the drift on the tone and tenor of how I’d lay those out. Plus – the main points I want to make for this blog only need the above two objectives.)
*SO AGAIN - WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER OR WE CAN DO IT SEPARATELY. I would much rather work with you on this. In so doing, we can all share the credit for serving the American people. If not, we can have government shutdowns, finger-pointing, acrimony, “business as usual” in Washington, and all the rest. But if we do go it separately, I’ll have to be honest and let you (Republicans) know that I will do everything in my power to remind the American people who in this government is part of the problem, and who in this government is part of the solution. But it doesn’t have to come to this - IF we just do what the American people are paying us for and work together.”
The above is just a rough outline, but I’m sure the intent is clear: a strong but conciliatory tone coupled with a call to service and a unified effort. I don’t know for sure that the President DIDN’T do something like this in a closed-door meeting with Republicans, but it sure doesn’t look like it. Plus, from all accounts, this President doesn’t even feel comfortable meeting face-to-face with leaders of HIS OWN PARTY – let alone his political opposition. So it’s not just the message that’s important, it’s the method of delivery as well. An attitude of “I will not negotiate,” or one of using the media as a primary means of communication with adversaries, is nothing but a prescription for failure.
Also - since I’m obviously not a Democrat, my priorities aren’t those of the Democratic Party. As a Democrat President, I know I couldn’t abandon all of those. But IMHO – in the case of health care reform, it was totally unnecessary to blow up the entire system just to help (maybe) 13%-15% of the American population. Yes – those 13%-15% NEEDED to be helped, but it could have been done with government subsidies directly to them and to the insurance companies, as necessary. There are many ways to provide the aid that will eventually be provided to those in need, but a draconian solution like ObamaCare is definitely NOT the best answer.
Why not? Just as we value “surgical, strategic, pin-point” military strikes to avoid “collateral damage,” so should we (i.e., the President and his political party) have been just as concerned about the other 85%-87%, so as to not cause collateral damage to THEIR health care situation. By doing it as I suggest above, there would have been no “If you like your plan/doctor, you can keep your plan/doctor” controversy. There wouldn’t have been MILLIONS of people who have been harmed through lost coverage/doctors, increased premiums and deductibles, and all the rest. It wouldn’t have been the “zero-sum” game that it has become. It would have just been a situation where GOVERNMENT WAS ACTUALLY HELPING THE NEEDY. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work?
What we have now is a situation here there are ObamaCare “winners” and there are ObamaCare “losers.” There could have essentially only been “winners” - other than probably some higher taxes for subsidies which could have been spread across the entire tax system and minimized. Also – doing it as I suggest wouldn’t have resulted in all the other “flaws” that have crawled out of the woodwork with ObamaCare: the “unintended consequences” to our citizens, to large and small businesses, and to the economy as a whole.
My problem with ObamaCare all along has been this: PEOPLE NEEDED HELP, but there was absolutely no reason to blow up a multi-trillion dollar health care system to just (ostensibly) help a small slice of the population. By most honest accounts, more than 4 out of 5 of the previously insured were HAPPY with their health care coverage. Why screw with them? Why make them part of a “reformed” system which was designed to help OTHER people, and which requires them to suffer negative consequences because of it?
Think about it: By strategically designing and implementing your “signature legislation” to help those who really need help - and leaving all the others alone - you eliminate the B.S. issues. There is no “if you like your plan/doctor you can keep your plan/doctor” controversy. There is no “2013 Lie Of The Year” (at least not for that “promise”). The airways aren’t filled with stories of people hurt by your program. The Republicans don’t have the issue to campaign on and beat up your candidates with. In short, if it had been done as I suggest above, even the medical types would have been happy because it would have “done no harm.” Any unintended consequences would have been kept to a minimum and could have been dealt with relatively easily.
What President Obama now has is an acrimonious, finger-pointing fiasco which has provided a whole lot of ammunition to his political adversaries. It didn’t have to be. I’m just Joe Stupid out here with no real political training or experience, but even I can see that. It just didn’t have to be this way. And regarding ObamaCare, the problems this program has certainly isn’t because of race or even political ideology. The biggest problem results from the fact that the scope and thrust of the legislation was misguided from the get-go. Thereafter it was handled in an extremely ham-handed fashion. The winning strategy all along was:
FOCUS THE HELP ONLY ON THOSE WHO NEED IT, AND LEAVE EVERYONE ELSE – AND THE REST OF THE SYSTEM – ALONE.
But it’s too late now. WE THE PEOPLE will survive this “crisis,” just as we have survived everything else. But it didn’t have to be this way. A promising presidency didn’t have to incur such self-inflected damage. A presidential legacy didn’t have to be one of bureaucratic confusion and SNAFU. A country didn’t have to be put through the unnecessary upheaval and aggravation resulting from a “do over’ or a “reset” of its entire health care system.
If only I were President Obama……my “armchair” delusions might actually work, right? Who knows. One delusion I don’t have is that things are easy in Washington. But that’s why we give our elected representatives the big bennies, and pay them the big bucks. They’re supposed to make it work FOR US.
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