Tuesday :: Jan 31, 2006

After Five Years, The Mayberry Machiavellis Are In Total Control


by Steve

Yes, he's been in office for five years and during that time the number of uninsured has swelled, and a poll last week found that 90% of those polled wanted either significant change or a total rebuilding of our nation's health care system. Yet the best he can do on health care is one paragraph, after his people spun the media for the last three weeks about how this speech would be substantive. This speech was surprisingly flimsy on damn near everything, showing how bankrupt these guys are and proving that the tank is empty.

Herewith is a summary of what he said on several topics, the reality, and what some of the major newspapers have said so far.

Health care:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance coverage they need. We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts – by making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice – leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB-GYN – I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.

Did Bush mention the Medicare Part D fiasco he created? No.

Did Bush provide any solutions to help the uninsured get coverage? No.

After five years in office, and a spin effort to tell us that health care would be a priority, Bush ends up empty-handed.

Energy:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.
The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources – and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative – a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment … move beyond a petroleum-based economy … and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.

Bush claims credit for spending $10 billion since 2001 on alternative energy research, or about what he blows in Iraq in two weeks. And rather than address consumption and conservation now, the best he can do after being in office five years is to call for more research. That’s it.

On the NSA spying mess:

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority.
Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

Bush wants you to believe that he didn’t know about the plans of the two Al Qaeda operatives in this country until it was too late, when in fact the NSA spying program is a false remedy for Bush Administration ineptitude.

Contrary to what Bush claims, neither the Constitution nor statute gives him the authority to do what he has authorized, nor contrary to what he said have previous presidents done what he has done. In short, he lied tonight.

Some Initial Media Reaction:

The initial reaction from the Post in its lead story borders on the dismissive.

But after a year of setbacks at home and abroad that have dragged his approval ratings to historic lows, Bush offered no far-reaching proposals to match the scale of the Social Security restructuring plan that proved so unpopular on Capitol Hill last year that it died without even being introduced. Many of the ideas sprinkled through Bush's 51-minute speech delivered from the House chamber to a national television audience were repackaged versions of proposals he has supported for years.

Even Jim VandeHei’s analysis reflected a less-than-rosy view of the speech and Bush’s political standing:

The president has never lacked for big ambitions, particularly in foreign policy, and he restated many of them last night. But his address lacked the rhetorical lift of some of his best efforts of the past, and the domestic policy agenda, although lengthy, included initiatives that have been around for some time.
In that sense, the speech was a reminder of how much the war in Iraq has drained the administration's energy and creativity, and how much it continues to define the Bush presidency. Before even turning to domestic issues, the president restated his determination to stay the course in Iraq, defended his controversial program of warrantless surveillance at home and issued another warning to Iran over its nuclear program.
The political environment has changed, too. Instead of talking about a broad political realignment, White House aides are simply trying to help Republicans keep hold of Congress amid a flurry of scandals that include the indictment of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the former House majority leader, and the plea agreement by former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The result was a speech last night written with far more attention to the politics of the moment. On energy, Bush called for reduced consumption of oil from the Middle East by 75 percent over the next two decades with the use of new technologies and alternate energy sources. Notably, he never mentioned his earlier goal of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, a small concession to the Democrats who have repeatedly frustrated him on the issue.
His health care proposals aim at expanding coverage and portability of health insurance, relative modest proposals at a time about 45 million Americans lack coverage. But he said nothing about the new Medicare prescription drug program, an initiative Republicans once hoped to trumpet but has angered many seniors in its implementation.
White House officials described Bush's speech as more philosophical than the typical State of the Union address, but at this point the philosophical outlines of his presidency are well known. What will count in the year ahead are the results his policies produce. Legislative achievements may help, but what will be even more useful for Republican candidates is a president who has regained the public's confidence. That will take more than one speech.

David Sanger’s analysis in the Times was similar:

It was, in short, a speech rooted in some harsh global and political realities, and one unlikely to rank among Mr. Bush's most memorable. Instead of evoking the grand ambitions that have suffused his presidency since the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush emphasized the familiar and the modest. At a moment of partisan fervor, he offered an olive branch, reviving a pledge to lower the temperature. "Our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger," he said.
Yet by any measure, Mr. Bush's options are far more limited than they were a year ago. Much of the momentum he boasted about in the days after his re-election is gone, some of it lost on a bold Social Security initiative that never took off, some washed away by the deeply disorganized federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
"He needs to reassure us on the economy, and reassure people there is a future they can be positive about," said Michael K. Deaver, the image maker who helped make Ronald Reagan — on whom Mr. Bush has tried to model much of his presidency — a master of optimism. "People have been saying no to that question everyone asks — 'Am I going to be better off a year from now than I am today?' — and that has been going on for the past two or three years."

The Times main story, by Bush ass-kissers Elizabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney was hardly a cheerleader piece:

The speech was notable for what Mr. Bush did not mention. He offered no new ideas for rebuilding New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, made no mention of his troubled Medicare prescription drug program and offered no proposal to clamp down on lobbying abuses in Congress that have led to the investigation of Jack Abramoff, a formerly powerful lobbyist and a major fund-raiser for Mr. Bush. Mr. Abramoff pleaded guilty on Jan. 3 to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion, and prosecutors have said he used campaign contributions, lavish trips and meals to influence lawmakers and their aides.

And the Times, in its lead editorial Wednesday, slams Bush for his inadequate comments and proposals on energy independence and global warming.

The Los Angeles Times, for its part, did a little fact checking on some of Bush’s claims and found him flunking the accuracy test more than several times. And the Times’ main story was measured at best in its enthusiasm.

ThinkProgress also fact-checked the speech, and found numerous departures from reality.

After five years, these guys have no clue and no ideas other than how to defeat the Democrats in small ball battles and how to steal elections. It is a winning political strategy against opponents who fail to learn their lessons, but there is no overarching vision to inspire voters this fall to stick with these guys for one more election. And after five years of all-terror, all-the-time and a host of unmet needs and a lack of will to address those problems, the GOP gets little if anything out of this speech to take into the districts this fall as a reason to keep them in power.

Steve :: 11:19 PM :: Comments (8) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!