Obama Schedules Prime Time Speech for Monday — A Fantasy

July 22, 2011

I dozed off this evening watching television. As I slept, I dreamed the following:

It’s Monday night. The debt negotiations have collapsed. President Obama scheduled a prime time speech to tell the nation what he must do. I scribbled notes as fast as I could. Here’s what I think he said:

“My fellow Americans. It is my sad duty to report that the House of Representatives, having voted over many years to establish this vast enterprise we call the federal government, which touches each one of our lives, has under its new leadership decided not to pay for the programs it voted to create. I now must carry out my constitutional duties, which are twofold. I must honor the commitment that the United States government has made to millions of lenders here at home and abroad. And, I must carry out the programs that Congress has voted to create.

“Unfortunately, Congress’ failure to raise the debt ceiling means there is insufficient money to do both. Therefore, I must do the best I can with the resources at hand, while not violating the constitution.

“Therefore, next week, I have ordered the Social Security Administration to honor all commitments to the nation’s retirees. Over $2 trillion of the debts owed by the government are owed to the nation’s retirement system. That means there is sufficient money available to pay all Social Security beneficiaries simply by taking the bonds in the trust fund and selling them to the general public.

“Unfortunately, this is the only part of the federal government that is fully funded. So to reduce expenditures to our current level of revenues, which only cover about 70 percent of what we spend, I am immediately ordering every cabinet secretary to draw up a list of essential services. We will fund those first. Unfortunately, many services delivered by the federal government cannot be maintained at this level of revenue.

“Therefore, starting next Monday, the government will no longer be able to inspect all the imported food that enters this country. We will also be laying off a sufficient number of air traffic controllers to bring that budget into balance, cancelling about 30 percent of our flights. All student loans will stop. We will stop inspecting manufacturers of drugs and other critical medical products, since most of the Food and Drug Administration’s revenue comes from user fees that can only be used for approving new drugs and devices.”

(The president went on for about ten minutes in this vein. Then he returned to talking about Congress.)

“This House of Representatives has chosen a path that puts it radically at odds with every Congress of the past 100 years, whether it was led by Democrats or Republicans, no matter which party sat in the White House. A Democratic Congress raised the debt ceiling more than a dozen times under Republican President Ronald Reagan. Republican Congresses raised the debt ceiling under President Bill Clinton. Republican and Democratic Congresses raised the debt ceiling under my predecessor, President George W. Bush.

“Yet this House of Representatives has chosen a different path. It is the path of that marries rabid partisanship with economic know-nothingism. It is the path of nihilism. It is a false path, yet it has brought us to the current impasse.

“I will gladly return to the negotiating table to work out a long-term debt reduction deal along the lines suggested by the bi-partisan deficit commission. This proposal would make $3 in budget cuts for every $1 in increased revenue. It is a program of shared sacrifice, one that reflects the common sense of average Americans, and one that has been endorsed by Senators from both political parties. But time has run out. The only choice now is for Congress to send me a clean bill that raises the debt ceiling so those negotiations can begin.

“I am by law required to honor the obligations of the U.S. government, which were appropriated by Congress and signed into law by me and previous presidents. Even as I am distraught beyond words at the pain the irresponsible actions of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have brought on the American people, I must do my duty. Congress can still avoid this outcome by sending me a clean bill lifting the debt ceiling tomorrow. Otherwise, I must uphold the law. It is my constitutional duty. Under our constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House. If the House believes our government, including our young men and women who are in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, can operate at 70 percent of their previous funding level, then I must carry out its wishes.

“Good night, and God Bless America.”

I snapped awake. Was I dreaming? I couldn’t tell. I thought, “You called their bluff! Good for you Mr. President.”

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19 Responses to Obama Schedules Prime Time Speech for Monday — A Fantasy

  1. Jacques Clemenceau on July 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Yes! Time for the “This is Bulls&*t” speech!

  2. BobC47 on July 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Both parties are guilty of irresponsible behavior and the resulting run up in the national debt. A decade ago we actually were starting to reverse the trend and cut into the debt but the events on 9-11 caused money to be spent on a never before seen scale. Never has anybody spent so much and had so little to show for it. This seemed to take any inhibitions off congress’s zeal to spend on anything and everything.

    We have incurred debt and we must pay that debt because that is what honorable people do. For one party to hold the country hostage until it gets it’s way is reprehensible. Both parties made this mess and both must contribute to solving it. If necessary the president should use his authority to raise the debt level himself (a provision of the U.S. Constitution that says the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned). He may well face impeachment for that but if that is what it takes to wake these morons up, so be it.

    He should tell the congress to grow up and start acting like men.

  3. Jeff Lazar on July 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Good one, Merrill! So tell us, in your dream, exactly how did the President grow a set of balls where he has previously had none?

  4. Marc A. Lightfoot on July 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I hope the President’s writers see this and plagiarises it. It would be great if he would ‘call out’ the Republicans as the party of no! He said it in his speech yesterday, but America needs to hear it again!! Senator McConnell let their plan out as soon as Mr Obama was sworn in. Their top priority was not helping America get better, it was making President Obama a one term President. Let’s make the Republicans pay for their hubris in 2012!!!

  5. JiM lieb on July 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    May it go from your text into Obama’s talk!

  6. JULIA STILWELL on July 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I admire your nerve for putting it on the net where everyone can read it. Frankly I am mad-as-hell-at the republican party. Their anti-American, Anti-woman clap-trap does not make any of them worth ‘dog-shit’. Add to their ‘beauty’ marks their hypocracy, and the lying, time wasting koch-loving conservatism and what you have is waste that should be put where the nuclear waste was to go, YUCCA Mountain. Thanks


  7. Marc Lewis on July 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    You forgot the 14th. Amendment. Obama could raise the debt by Executive Decree and then let the Supreme Court deal with it, much as FDR enacted the NRA, WPA, etc., knowing that the Court would shoot them down, but as he said, ‘by then they will have served their purpose’.

  8. Kate Moore on July 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I would add only a section in which the President says that the budget crisis necessitates stopping all Congressional salaries and benefits, effective at noon on the day of his speech.

  9. rik warren on July 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    it s obvious the extreme Obama-phobic population has galvanized in the tax protesters. This cult requires the removal of Obama, above all other things. Because of, because of, his Obama-ness. Ya that s it. It is easy for them to join tax protesters
    The rest is a mess as well. Money and the Access it brings, dominate the process challenging inhibition. This is poisonous and the gained advantages compound.

  10. RobertJuenemabn on July 23, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Why isn’t the 14th amendment highest on the list of Obama’s options, as President Clinton suggested? Simply declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and move on!

  11. Robert Segal on July 24, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I, too, long for that bluff to be called with the observation, “all revenue bills must originate in the House… Please do your job — which is to send me a solution — or suffer the consequences”. I’ve been thinking of sending the President a copy of “The Call of the Wild” to illustrate the mindset he faces. But, certainly, he must already see he’s being encircled by a pack of ravening wolves eager not for fiscal solutions but to attack and terminate his term of office in 2012? Would something as dull as fiscal policy really excite such a mob to blood lust (and risk of national default)? The Republicans’ bizarre behaviour is not about campaign pledges for fiscal overhaul. It is only marginally, opportunistically about the economy, papered-over with convenient mutterings about how the wealthy must remain unmolested so they can save America. Economic matters must be shunted aside to achieve the Republicans’ true promise to their brethren: The destruction of Barack Obama.

  12. Frank Walter on July 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    You fail to mention the most important action Obama can take: immediately cease all wars and bring the soldiers home. Place two aircraft carriers into mothballs, close bases (Germany, Japan, & others), end NATO (obsolete with USSR gone), reduce our military carbon footprint drastically (monumentally), order immediate infrastructure repair/upgrade, begin a crash program on green energy, eliminate nukes worldwide, cut salaries of politicians, suspend all foreign aid (call for Israel to pay for the 200 billion in military aid we have provided that enabled its bombing Gaza, Lebanon, Iran, America’s spy ship Liberty–1967, the humanitarian flotilla in May 2010), and order factories back to America or start new factories run by the government as China has done (our government should compete with China because our businesses cannot or will not). 50,000 businesses have gone off shore or to Mexico.

    Or option #1: threaten the Republicans with this course of action within 24 hours. (Do it or get off the pot!)

    • ron on July 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Why don’t you appoint him dictator while you are it, it would go along with all the czars he has appointed; isn’t that what he wants in the end anyway or maybe he wants to be the next secretary general of the UN so he can run the world.

  13. Dollared on July 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Unfortunately, all this speech leads to is $3 in cuts for every $1 in added revenue. So the irresponsible wing of the Republican Party, Fox News, et al, win the war, making the 3/4 of the Bush Tax cuts the law of the land while financing those cuts by cutting Social Security and Medicare.

    It is clearly documented that the immediate result of these cuts would be somewhere between 600,000 and 1.2M greater jobless Americans, and the long term result would be greater poverty among seniors, greater unemployment, and greater income inequality.

    Is that what you are advocating?

  14. Emily on July 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I like it. I’m sure that if the debt crisis hits, the Republicans will be howling that it was all Obama’s fault. They whined that they didn’t get enough credit for the capture of Osama bin Laden, but they will take absolutely no blame for refusing to compromise on the debt ceiling.

  15. Joseph E. Sidoti on July 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    The present political situation is not only sad, it is a madness unfit for our country.

    The relationship that exists between the Republican party and the Democratic party MUST be terminated or the United States of America will lose its status as the greatest nation on this earth. Unfortunately, signs of our decay are already showing. In less than two centuries of our existence, our nation achieved greatness. In the past few decades, signs of regression have surfaced.

    Regardless of what happens within the next few days, the coming months and years will find us without an effective government. There will be an ever-increasing hostility and lack of cooperation between the parties as each will feel that they have been made to suffer a defeat. Matters will worsen as the next election approaches. Vindictiveness exists within our government.

    Progress in resolving important issues is impossible and the country has been virtually brought to its knees by the bickering and sparring between the two contestants, the Republicans and the Democrats, each vying for power. The possibility of their really working together is an illusion.

    How many “Great Civilizations” of the past have failed due to governmental corruption? I am horrified at the thought that our present government seems to be on such a path. We have reasons to fear that elected officials may not have the best interests of our country at heart. The incentives are all in the wrong place, and our country and our people are beginning to suffer. The incentive for our chosen representatives today is to acquire and retain power, instead of working to achieve the very best solution for any given problem.

    A great deal of harm has already been done. Resolution of any problem seems to be beyond our government’s ability. Ultimately, the people will have to suffer the consequences resulting from improper or inadequate decisions made by those to whom such responsibilities have been delegated, while the perpetrators will be held to be immune.

    It will be a dangerous thing if the people conclude that deprivation, suffering and lack of opportunity are due to acts of neglect or incompetence by our government. Today, people are informed, and accordingly they are expressing themselves, as evidenced by the wave of uprisings throughout the world. Expressing dissatisfaction through the newly available communicative medias such as Twitter, Facebook, Smart Phones and others now makes it possible for the people to really be heard! Do we Americans need a sort of 1776 revolutionary outcry? De we need a Paul Revere to warn us of the growing incompetence of our governmental institutions?

    It was intended by our forefathers that our government would be composed of the most talented individuals our country possessed to create the best government on earth. As a team, they were to work together to advance our country, they would make changes as required to make us strong and safe as a nation, to keep our people healthy, and to provide all individuals the opportunity to be successful in their individual goals.

    Can we trust the Republicans or the Democrats to work together upon ANY problem? Can we trust the Republicans AND the Democrats to share this responsibility? Should Americans just stand by and watch each party using threats of national harm to extort their individual objectives? Is it time for us to hold both parties responsible for adverse consequences arising from their actions? Is it time for Americans to resort to Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to accomplish what is apparently needed so urgently at this time?

  16. Jim Dickinson on July 25, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Excellent piece, Merrill!

    Unfortunately, for its theme to move out of fantasy would require the kind of plain old-fashioned guts that this president has so far shown no sign of possessing.

  17. Mark Bridger on July 25, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I would, specifically, have the president say: “And I will stop all payments of salaries to members of both houses of Congress, and stop all federal payments to states not mandated by Medicaid; this includes all farm and business subsidies and incentives and aid for infrastructure construction and repair.”

    (Of course, if the President were REALLY to play hardball, he would make things tougher on states whose representatives are the most critical of “government spending.” If they don’t want to pay for it, then they shouldn’t receive (any) of it. But that’s REAL fantasy.)

    See my blog ThatMansScope.blogspot.com for more commentary on current issues.

  18. Donna Zumwalt on July 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I wish Obama and the Democrats would use this strategy. People are too focused on large and wasteful government and don’t seem to realize that along with those things there are many good things the government does. Do we need to get rid of the waste yes, but we sure do not need to throw the baby out with the bathwater as the saying goes. If the Republicans were on this side they would be using this strategy, they would stay focused on it, and drive it home. Don’t see Obama or Democrats doing anything except giving in on everything.

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