Thursday, April 14, 2011

Obama on the Deficit: Articulation

Yesterday President Obama gave one of the most articulate speeches I have seen him deliver since taking office.  He sharply criticizes the Republican approach to tax cuts for the highest income earners. In my ears the apex of the speech begins below.

"Worst of all, this is a vision that says even though America can’t afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.  Think about it.  In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined.  The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each.  And that’s who needs to pay less taxes?  They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs?   That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.

The fact is, their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America.  As Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan.  There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.  And this is not a vision of the America I know. 

The America I know is generous and compassionate; a land of opportunity and optimism.  We take responsibility for ourselves and each other; for the country we want and the future we share.  We are the nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness.  We sent a generation to college on the GI bill and saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare.  We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives. 

This is who we are.  This is the America I know.  We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country.  To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms.  We will all need to make sacrifices.  But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in.  And as long as I’m President, we won’t.

Today, I’m proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years.  It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission I appointed last year, and builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget.  It’s an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table, but one that protects the middle-class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future."

Read the entire transcript here, or watch it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson

Though I respect his thoughts on religion enough to have had them prominently displayed on my facebook profile for years, it is another thought he had regarding meat that lately rings in my head.  From page 166 in Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food.

"Eating meat in the tremendous quantities we do (each American now consumes an average of two hundred pounds of meat a year) is probably not a good idea, especially from a highly industrialized food chain.  Several studies point to the conclusion that the more meat there is your diet - especially read meat - the greater your risk of heart disease and cancer. Yet studies of flexitarians suggest that small amounts of meat - less than one serving a day - don't appear to increase one's risk. Thomas Jefferson probably had the right idea when he recommended using meat more as a flavor principle than as a main course, treating it as a 'condiment for the vegetables.'"

Minchin Strikes Again!

This time with superb animation!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Creepiest Chorus

A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 - by Isao Hashimoto Non-proliferation anyone?