FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

SOTU Whoppers

by DAVE LINDORFF

President Obama gives a good speech. He’s smooth, unruffled by audience response, good at a timely ad-lib remark, and knows how to win over a tough crowd–all skills that were in evidence at last night’s State of the Union address. But he’s also good at telling whoppers.

Here are a few.

Talking about health care, and the stalled bills in House and Senate which have become so encrusted with pro-industry amendments that the whole process should be referred to as the Health Industry Enrichment Act, Obama said at one point, addressing the doubts many in Congress and among the broader public have about those bills, “If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I’m eager to see it.”

Hm-m-m. Actually, he has not been eager to see other ideas at all. John Conyers has had another idea: extending Medicare to cover everyone. He had it in the form of a bill, HR 676, but at the urging of the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kept that bill from even getting a hearing. Earlier, almost a year ago, Obama held a conference at the White House to hear ideas about health care reform, but he excluded from that conference any advocates of what is called “single-payer”–shorthand for a Canadian-style health system in which the government insures everyone, and sets the reimbursement amounts for doctors and hospitals, medical services of all kinds, and drugs.

And yet, expanding Medicare to cover everyone, as I’ve written several times on this site, would probably end up costing less than the federal government and state and local governments (and of course ultimately taxpayers) already are spending on Medicaid, Veteran’s health care, hospital charity care, and other public medical programs, and in any event would, even if raising taxes slightly, simultaneously eliminate the health care costs for insurance currently paid by employers, employees and the self-employed, while also giving the government enormous power to negotiate lower costs for drugs, doctors and hospitals. Because the program would be larger and more powerful with respect to the private health care delivery system, it would also be able to reduce the cost of providing health care to the elderly who are already on Medicare.

That is to say, there is, already operating for 45 million elderly citizens, a health care program that, if expanded to all, would, as the president asked, “bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses.”

But the truth is, he doesn’t want to talk about it and doesn’t want to even hear about it
The second big whopper was Iraq. There the president, to loud applause, said he would have all combat troops out of Iraq by August of this year. At another point, though, he went further, saying that “all our troops” would be “coming home.” The truth, though, is that they won’t be. In fact, though, as many as 50,000 US troops will remain in Iraq after this August. Whether they will be “in combat” or not is really not up to them. If they are attacked, of course they will be in combat. They may well be sent into battle too, though who knows if we’ll hear about it. There are unlikely to be too many members of the press with them, as the focus shifts to Afghanistan. But 50,000 is a lot of troops–much more than the US has in South Korea, for instance. It’s hardly an end to the war in Iraq.

Third, the president slipped by the new big war, Afghanistan, in an astonishingly abrupt single paragraph. Think about it. He has ordered an escalation of that conflict, where the US already has committed 70,000 troops, with another 30,000 on the way, not counting perhaps 50-60,000 more private mercenaries, and has called for a new aggressive strategy of capturing and holding territory–a strategy that is bound to increase both US and innocent Afghani casualties–and he only said a couple of sentences about it.

And those sentences were full of lies. Obama said the US is “training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home,” but he knows his own advisors are telling him that those Afghan military forces are incapable of being expanded to do that job. The whole country is basically illiterate and not capable of being trained to handle much of the equipment, the military and police are hopelessly corrupt, and the tribal system makes a unified national army a pipe-dream. He said the US will “reward good governance,” but in fact has allied itself with a corrupt narco-regime led by Hamid Karzai, whose own brother is a leading drug kingpin.

There were more lies and misleading statements through the speech, for example his lie that his administration has “prohibited torture,” but these three alone make it amply clear that the president was not doing his constitutional duty of giving Congress an accurate report on the “state of the union.”

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
Sheldon Richman
The Real Danger From Trump is Ignored
Jay Moore
Learning from History: Resistance in the 1850s and Today
Matthew Stevenson
Down and Out in London and Paris With Macron, May, Trump and Gatsby
David Jaffee
Rolling Back Democracy
Fred Gardner
Irrefutable Proof: Russian Election Meddling Documented!
Jess Guh
Neurology Study Reveals What We Already Know: People of Color Get Worse Healthcare
Joseph Natoli
A Culture of Narcissism, a Politics of Personality
David Rosen
Politics and the Agent of Social Change
Ian Almond
The Secret Joke of Our Democracy: Britain’s Elephant in the Boardroom
Andre Vltchek
Revolution Vs Passivity
Erik Rydberg
Stop the Jordan Cove LNG Project #NoLNG
Vijay Prashad
When Israeli Fighter Jets Almost Killed Nehru
Christopher Brauchli
The Certified Trump
Chuck Collins
Congress Wants to Cut Your Health Care — And Billionaires’ Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail