Putting Words in the President’s Mouth

I am fairly certain President Obama does not need my help writing speeches, but what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t pretend to put words in other people’s mouths, right? In my dream world, I wish President Obama would address the nation with the following:

Good morning my fellow Americans.

It is with some measure of sadness that I announce the United States government has shutdown. While vital and important offices will remain open and our military personnel will be paid, a variety of other offices will close today: 20% of government employees are, technically speaking, out of work today. These are your friends and neighbors. Please consider inviting them to dinner tonight. Help ease their financial burden.

We have reached this impasse because too many Republican’s in the House of Representatives have chosen not to negotiate in good faith with their colleagues across the aisle.

We are, quite frankly, in the midst of a direct attack on the fundamental tenets of democracy.

Our country is at risk. When a United States Senator stands for 21 hours and compares the Affordable Care Act to the spread of nazism in Europe, something is amiss.

In 2012, you might remember, America held an election. I was blessed and honored that 61 million Americans voted to endorse my presidency, including the Affordable Care Act.

In the years of my presidency, Republican members of Congress have had ample opportunity to discuss various parts of this signature piece of legislation. During those years, we could have discussed implementation, negotiated individual pieces, and tested various of the mandates for bugs. Most pointedly, we could have discussed those pieces of the legislation that mirror past Republican health-care ideas and we could have worked to establish the free-market exchanges as viable, consumer and business friendly alternatives to our current system. I fully realize that many Americans did not vote for me. I would have happily worked with their Representatives to tweak the ACA.

Instead, my Congressional opponents have diligently worked to defund, obfuscate, and engage in illogical, irrational, and down-right lies regarding our attempts at ensuring all Americans have access to basic health care. If they had worked that hard on the people’s business, we might have the greatest health care system in the world.

I fully understand those Americans who have reservations about large government agencies and I respect those people who are philosophically opposed to centralized government entities. It is important that we have a dialogue about the roles and responsibilities of the government. Our founders would want nothing less.

But our founders would also demand that we recognize elections matter. For 6 years, we have watched Republicans ignore the democratic process and threaten the very fabric of our country.

They have not, my fellow Americans, negotiated in good faith. They have, instead, chosen the path of insanity–they perform the same task 40 times and expect a different result. They are not standing on principle. They are stomping on democracy.

We are now faced with the fruits of those labors.

Those few men and women in Congress who so strongly oppose working within the democratic process will tell you that I refuse to negotiate and that I am being unreasonable.

They clearly don’t have faith in your ability to understand meaning of “negotiate” and “compromise.”

For negotiation and compromise to work, as you all know, both sides must put forth something they value. The men and women then gather around the table and exchange ideas. They argue, they disagree, they consider what’s best both for themselves, the people they represent, and for the country at large.

For instance, I am more than willing to meet with the Iranian leadership. We have imposed sanctions on their country. They have, in the past, engaged in behavior we find disturbing and dangerous. As we negotiate, we might reduce sanctions as they change behavior.

I was more than willing to listen to business leaders tell me we needed to delay the business mandate while we worked on the logistics of implementation. We gladly compromised as we seek a workable solution.

That’s negotiating.

In our current domestic situation, the Republicans would like me to choose between ending affordable insurance for the 46 million uninsured Americans or shutting down the government.

That’s not a choice. For them or for me. I value keeping the government open and insuring Americans. Republican’s value ending the Affordable Care Act. We are forced to conclude, then, they do not value keeping the government open. What, I ask then, are they willing to give up in this negotiation? Their idea of compromise, it appears, is that I do exactly what they want.

The Affordable Care Act was passed during a democratic vote, following the Constitutional rules and regulations that form the bedrock of our nation. Time and time again (in fact 40 times) Republicans have followed that same process and failed to rescind or change that vote.

Like a toddler denied a candy bar, Republicans are demanding I give them everything they want or they will hold their breath, scream, and throw a fit. It’s a temper-tantrum approach to government.

The federal government is being held hostage because one political party has been hijacked by political ideologues and extremists.

Make no mistake: the United States government is shut down today because Republicans have chosen to take us down this path. They have chosen party platforms and political aspirations over the American people.

In the coming days, we will work tirelessly to manage the fallout from this political stunt. We will maintain those necessary and relevant government agencies and limit, as much as we can, the damage a government shutdown can cause.

The United States government will pay its bills and fulfill its responsibilities.

Those are things, my fellow Americans, that are non-negotiable. Those are the hallmarks of democracy.

Good night and God Bless America.


Speak for Thee, Not for Me

Earlier this week, Ted Cruz, US Senator from Texas, titled at windmills in a ego-driven, 21 hour “speech” on the Senate floor. Cruz claimed he was speaking for 26 million Texans and 300 million Americans as he vowed to stand until he was no longer able. How noble and brave! Here’s a man willing to withstand Sen. Harry Reid’s glare, fight a raging bladder and dry mouth as his suit wrinkles, and speak into the empty Senate chambers, fighting an oppressive government while trying to impose his will anyone who disagrees with him!

As a Texan born and bred, let me first say, unequivocally, that Ted Cruz does not speak for me. He’s down to speaking for 25,999,9999. Give or take a newborn or recently deceased.

But, in fact, Cruz isn’t even speaking for 26 million minus one Texans or 300 million Americans and I wish the media would call him on this hyperbolic claim.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Ted Cruz, for those unfamiliar with Texas politics, didn’t even win the Republican primary in 2012. David Dewhurst won the primary with about 625,000 votes to Cruz’s 425,000. Because neither man had the 50% majority, we went to a runoff, a runoff Cruz won with a mere 631,316 votes.

While Cruz did win the Senate seat in the general election with 56% of the vote, that translates to a relatively small 4,469,843 votes, far short of 26 million. In fact, I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty sure that means Cruz only represents about 16% of Texans. More to the point, of course, is that a little over 3 million people voted against Cruz and, while it might be inconvenient to point out to Senator Cruz, during the presidential election of 2012 those same 3 million voters plus some cast ballots for Barack Obama.

Essentially, 84% of the Texas voting population (that’s about 21 million people) didn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

Obviously, Senator Cruz is welcome to assume their apathy is a sign of support, but I’m guessing the 6.3 million uninsured Texans wish Cruz would give them a call before he claims to speak for them.

If we move outside the great state of Texas, Cruz’ claim that he is the mouthpiece of America becomes even harder to swallow.

I realize that Republican’s can’t seem to accept that a little more than 61 million Americans voted for President Obama, but you would think that a Harvard man such as Ted Cruz would realize that if there are 300 million voters and 61 million voted for Obama then, at most, he can only speak for around 240 million.

Don’t get me wrong, 240 million people is a still a lot of people. If there were 300 million voters in America. And they all agreed with Ted Cruz.

There are, according to the Census data, only about 206 million voters.

And they don’t all agree with Ted Cruz. (See the election results from 2012.)

While I will admit the polling data is all over the place with regards to the Affordable Care Act, almost every poll shows somewhere between 35-57% of the country supports Obamacare, 35-57% want parts of it repealed, and around 115% don’t understand a darn thing about the plan. (I made that last number up, in case anyone was worried.) The only thing consistent about the polling data is that it changes every day.

A big part of that uncertainty, of course, is because the Republicans like Senator Cruz have spent two years trying to repeal, obfuscate, and obstruct implementation. They are perfecting the toddler strategy–scream and holler in the check out line and eventually you might get your way. They demand, for instance, President Obama compromise by doing exactly what they want. Or they will hold their breath and shut down the government.

While Mr. Cruz does not speak for me, I do agree that we should, as he noted yesterday in his video conference at the Texas Tribune Festival yesterday, “allow people to buy insurance across state lines to create a ‘true national marketplace’ and delink health insurance from jobs.”

Of course, Mr. Cruz also notes the “best way for them [the uninsured] to get health insurance is to get a good-paying job.” And we wonder why we are confused. On the one hand, our champion of free enterprise and limited government supports the basic tenets of the Affordable Care Act and wants to delink insurance from jobs while telling the uninsured to get a good job with insurance.

Because all those people without insurance enjoy low paying, minimum wage jobs with no benefits. They’ve just chosen not to have a job that pays well.

This is the same man, though, who read Green Eggs and Ham, a Dr. Seuss book about trying new things, while telling us we shouldn’t try this new thing.


I fully support Mr. Cruz’s willingness and right to take a principled stand against what might seem like a government take-over of insurance. I have my own doubts about how effective these programs can be run and I have some serious reservations about requiring insurance.

But I also recognize that our current system does not work. Around 45 million Americans lack insurance. They are too often one cough or one lump away from economic disaster and bankruptcy. Medical costs must be reigned in and we simply must provide access to adequate health care. The Affordable Care Act at least gets use started.

Mr. Cruz has the right, and one might even say, the obligation, to rise in principled opposition.

But he should at least admit that he does so for himself and leave the other 299.999 million of us out of it.

Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

NYT > Politics

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Dilbert Daily Strip

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)