Dear President Obama: Some party, wasn't it? Nearly 2 million crammed together and — did you hear? — not a single arrest. Unheard-of good feelings for...
Dear President Obama:
Some party, wasn’t it? Nearly 2 million crammed together and — did you hear? — not a single arrest.
Unheard-of good feelings for a crowd that size, the police said. So much warmth on such a cold day.
Now that I’m home, I’m wondering: What did you take away from the inaugural moment? Did you feel what the people were radiating back at you?
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When you gazed out at the National Mall, and, beyond, across America, did you hear this cry: “Please send money?”
No, I didn’t think so. That’s not what I heard, either.
I talked to dozens who were there and came away with exactly the opposite. They wanted to know what they can do. Not what you or the government can do for them, but what they can do for their country.
It’s a 50-year-old JFK cliché, hip again. We are a self-absorbed Me-Nation. But maybe a crisis is bringing about … change.
Which is why I’m writing. To say: I don’t want your tax cut.
It’s more than just that I don’t want it. That you are even trying to give a tax rebate has set off in me the worst feeling of déjà vu.
It’s George W. Bush all over again.
Yeah, that’s right. I just called you George W. Bush. It won’t be the worst you get called. But in this context it’s bad enough.
You have said we are the change we’ve been waiting for. Well, here’s one change I heard from those teeming inaugural masses. No more something for nothing. No more easy road. No more sloughing the tough stuff onto the next generation.
What can we do for our country? Right now.
Yet I see from reading through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — your stimulus plan — that what I am actually being asked to do is to cash a $1,000 tax credit.
Total cost to the treasury of this one tax cut: $145 billion. Not a dime of which is paid for.
Remember in Denver, at your convention? I liked your speech there because you didn’t hope all over us. You laid out your plans with great specificity. Then you said this: “Now, many of these plans cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime.”
Pay every dime. No more sticking our kids with the tab.
I realize the economy has cratered since then. Now you are urgently trying to pump it up. I’m with you there — if there’s any time for deficit-spending targeted at creating jobs, it’d be now. So let’s rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, transit lines and electrical grids.
But sending us money? Borrowed, once again, from abroad?
That is so last-eight-years. It didn’t work in 2008, when I got a stimulus check for $1,800. Or in 2003, when I got an extra child-credit check for $800. Or in 2001, when the check was for $600.
All of that was on credit. It did next to nothing for the economy. The government marched us off to war while negligently pumping out the checks.
I know you put tax cuts in this stimulus plan in part because you want Republicans to vote for it. Forget them. You said it best the other day. You won. It’s time for change to come to America.
I should cut you some slack — you have been in office just a week. But the people are clamoring: Ask us what we can do.
So ask us. Ask us to raise the Social Security retirement age. To means-test Medicare. To pay higher gas or income taxes.
Hell, ask us to plant vegetable gardens. Something, anything that says we’re all in this together. That we can make a tough choice. That for once, more than just military families might be called on to sacrifice.
Oh, except for one thing, Mr. President. If you ask me to go shopping, I’m moving to Canada.
Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.