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

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail