Wednesday, April 27, 2011

America's Nightmare

To call Donald Trump a buffoon unfairly denigrates that species. His personal attacks on President Barack Obama are the act of a desperate and delusional man who thinks his insatiable ego is more important than his country.

America is suffering through difficult economic times with high unemployment, record deficits and millions of its citizens struggling to make ends meet. The U.S is also immersed in two costly wars and it is involved in an ongoing military action in Libya. These are the grave and onerous issues that should dominate our great national debate. The nation is crying out for leadership, solutions and a brighter future.

But Trump chooses to tear at old wounds for personal gain. He exploits deep-seated racial hatreds and petty jealousies by attempting to undermine the truth with preposterous allegations and poisonous lies. It is the politics of hate. And, sadly, he has found a following.

For Trump it is all black and white. He proudly brags that he has a "great relationship with the Blacks." As in, "they know their place," a common phrase used in parts of this country not too long ago. Still today, regretfully, there are many who believe "they" do not belong in the White House.

While President Obama is not the first president to be attacked by opponents out of personal animus, none before were the victims of such virulent hostility. And Trump has taken to the assault with selfish passion and misguided purpose. It is unclear whether his offensive is part of a marketing campaign for the renewal of his NBC reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice", or if he is actually going to run for president in 2012.

For the past couple of weeks Trump repeatedly questioned whether the president was born in the United States. "Where's the birth certificate?" He even claimed to have people investigating it--though there is no evidence that was the case. When the state of Hawaii made an exception, at the request of the White House, and released the president's birth certificate, Trump proclaimed himself proud of his achievement.

But that is not enough for The Donald. He now wants to see the president's college grades and he is asking questions about how the president was able to get into Columbia University and Harvard. He suggests the president was the beneficiary of affirmative action. If he was, so what! The fact is the president overcame a difficult childhood to rise to the nation's top office. This is a powerful and compelling American story that would normally be celebrated and not besmirched.

For sure, there is plenty to debate when it comes to the president's policies. But with all the challenges the country faces today discussion of his grade point average in college, whether he's an anti-colonialist or even whether he is the beneficiary of affirmative action is ludicrous.

The president once autographed a note card for a little girl adding, "Dream big dreams." Perhaps had Donald Trump autographed the note card he would have added, "You're fired." But it is clear that if he were elected president he would be America's greatest nightmare.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Race Is On!

Republicans in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a budget bill that, if it became law, would end Medicare as we currently know it and give tax breaks to the wealthy Americans. While this seems like a political gift for Democrats, will they once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

The White House spokesman pounced on the vote, "The House Republican plan places the burden of debt reduction on those who can least afford it, ends Medicare as we know it, and doubles health care costs for seniors in order to pay for more than a trillion dollars in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires."

The bill, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), does not alter Medicare for Americans 55 and older. But the program would be converted into a voucher plan for those who are currently younger than 55 years old. The voucher would be used to purchase private insurance. But the purchaser would have to contribute money as the vouchers lose value over time. The savings on Medicare spending would then be given to wealthy Americans in the form of tax breaks, which Republicans say will stimulate job growth.

In a speech Wednesday to reveal his long awaited budget proposal, President Barack Obama attacked Congressman Ryan's budget. "They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that's paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs," the president said, "That's not right, and it's not going to happen as long as I'm president." He continued, "The fact is, their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America."

In fact, the president laid out a very different vision, "We can't just think about ourselves...We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. And we have to think about what's required to preserve the American Dream for future generations." He proposed reductions in the growth of Medicare spending, cuts in defense, an overhaul of the tax system to eliminate many loopholes, and an end to Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans.

Raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans polls very well. But Republicans have been able to play the "tax increase" card very effectively to defeat Democrats in the past. "We don't have a tax revenue problem, we have a spending problem," has been a favorite Republican mantra since Ronald Reagan. And who was one of the biggest deficit spenders of all? The Gipper.

Still, Democrats are fortunate that there is no Reagan running for the White House in 2012. Recent polls show real estate mogul Donald Trump to be leading among possible Republican presidential candidates. Trump is ranting about the "birther issue" and claiming that President Obama is the worst president ever. Polling second is former Governor Mitt Romney, the author of "Romney Care", which is the law in Massachusetts and the blue print for the president's health care plan that is despised by Republicans.

So heading into the 2012 campaign Democrats can coalesce around several key positions that are popular with most voters including preserving Medicare and asking the rich to pay a little more in taxes. Assuming the economy continues to improve, albeit slowly, and two and one-half wars can be successfully managed, President Obama, who has begun his re-election bid, is in a good place.

So the race is on! But the president cannot play not to lose. He must at all times be a strong leader who makes tough choices on handling the deficit while protecting programs that help middle class Americans and those less fortunate. And all Democratic Senators and Congressmen must get solidly behind President Obama between now and November 2012. Otherwise, President Donald Trump will fire every one of you!