Who among us has not imagined a speech the President should give?

And do you know what?  Some of them are pretty good!  Not entirely realistic in every respect, perhaps — just a tad confrontational, perhaps — but certainly fun to contemplate.

Here are three:


My friend Jesse Kornbluth offers this one on the Huffington Post:

Good evening.

The New York Times reports that I’m willing to work “with or without” Congress to achieve my goals.

That’s not quite right.

I’m not going to waste one minute trying to work with you.

Not because I don’t want to.

Because you won’t work with me.

So I have no agenda to present to you tonight. You don’t want to hear it. You’re not going to vote for it.

But the networks have given me an hour.

How best can I use it?

This way: I’m going to show the American people why nothing gets done here. Why bad things happen to decent people. And, mostly, what hypocrites you are.

Start with the deficit. Republicans would tell you that I am the champion of Big Government and Big Deficits and if I’m not stopped I’ll bankrupt this country.

Here’s a fact you won’t hear on Fox: For the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, red ink dropped by almost 40 percent compared to the first quarter a year ago.

Here’s another: The deficit has gone down so much that the federal government actually ran a surplus for December.

Those facts get in the way of the Republican plan for my Presidency, which is to make sure nothing I propose gets accomplished. In order to do that, they have to hurt everyone who’s not rich, everyone who’s working hard to make ends meet, everyone who needs help.

Let’s talk about food stamps. Last year, the House voted to cut $40 billion from the SNAP program. You remember how they spun that — food stamps discourage people from getting off their couches and looking for work. You know who they mean. Welfare queens. Drug users. Moochers. Or, to cut right to it, Hispanics and African-Americans.

The facts? Our economy is still so battered that one in every seven Americans qualifies for food stamps. Almost a third of the adults in the SNAP program are employed. Almost a quarter are looking for work. Let’s not forget the elderly, disabled or children. Here’s a newsflash: The fastest growing segment of Americans who now qualify for food stamps? Workers with some college training.

Who is most deserving of government support? How about 13 Republicans in the House of Representatives. These men and women just can’t make it on a salary of $174,000. So they not only voted to cut the SNAP budget — they kept every dollar they got — personally — from farm subsidies.

As I call your name, please stand up so we can all see what hypocrisy looks like.

Robert Aderholt, from Alabama
Blake Farenthold, from Texas
Vicky Hartzler, from Missouri
John Kline, from Minnesota
Doug LaMalfa, from California
Tom Latham, from Iowa
Frank Lucas, from Oklahoma
Cynthia Lummis, from Wyoming
Randy Neugebauer, from Texas
Kristi Noem, from South Dakota
Marlin Stutzman, from Indiana
Mac Thornberry, from Texas

I want to give a special shout-out to Stephen Fincher, from Tennessee. Over the years, he’s received farm subsidies totaling $3,483,824. This is not only the most money any Representative has received, it goes to a Congressman who had the… let’s call it “patriotic fervor”… to introduce a bill that would require states that want to receive full funding for welfare assistance to force its citizens to waive their Fourth Amendment rights. That’s right — they’d mandate random drug testing. Want food stamps? Pee in this cup! Well done, sir!

No list of obstructionists would be complete without Paul Ryan. The Congressman is our national conscience when it comes to cutting spending for people who can’t afford lobbyists. Last year, he outdid himself: he supported a bill that would save $6 billion over the next decade by cutting the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working age military retirees by 1 percent.

Cutting retirement benefits for the military — mind-blowing, isn’t it? And why? I quote Congressman Ryan: “Those in the military have not paid into their retirements.” He went further and warned us what voting more money to military retirees might lead to. “If we don’t watch it,” he said, “the military is going to become a government benefits agency that fights wars on the side.”

Technically, of course, Congressman Ryan is right. Our soldiers have not put money into a retirement account. Instead, they’ve given intangibles that are, apparently, of no value: sacrifice, service, patriotism. Please take a bow, Congressman. And good luck in 2016.

I could go on. But you get the idea. If I propose anything that helps the American people, it goes nowhere. Worse, the Republicans then introduce bills specifically designed to make your lives harder. The way they see it, you can never be made to suffer enough.

So I’m ignoring Congress. I’ll focus on things I can achieve domestically by appointment and internationally by diplomacy. And if the Republicans find that to be grounds for impeachment, I have two words for them: Bring it. . . .


The state of the union is . . . dilapidated.  One party refuses to put unemployed people back to work modernizing our crumbling infrastructure. For war it’s fine to borrow — that’s about blowing things up.  But borrow to build things that will last a century?  “No way!” say our Republican friends.

One smart guy who shares my frustration is Paul Abrams, whose suggested strategy for tonight’s State of the Union also appears in the Huffington Post.  In part:

The President cannot provide an accurate report-card to the nation without conveying the central operating principle of Republicans to oppose everything he does (aka, “all-things-Obama”), even if they previously favored it, or even proposed it themselves.

The State of the Union address provides one of the few opportunities for the President to address the entire nation. As the Republicans have already guaranteed to fight against “all-things-Obama” (even Michelle’s fight against childhood obesity), the President should use the SOTU to explain that Republicans are, quite literally, willing to hurt, injure or even destroy the lives of the American people just to make the President look bad.

Republicans have basically decided that if they cannot control the country, they are going to engage in a scorched earth policy to make sure that no one, except for their wealthy friends, can enjoy its blessings.

Indeed, they still “owe” the country $25 billion for the shutdown, and the President should say so.

He should show that this is not conjured out of his imagination by pointing to just a few of the many documented facts — such as the Republican inaugural night pact to oppose everything the president proposed (without even knowing what that would be); inveighing against the stimulus while begging for its money in their own districts (the President should hold up a stack of letters from Republican members), and obstructing even routine measures such as infrastructure investments that are not only necessary but also create jobs and economic growth.

The reason that he is calling our attention to this, the President should say, is that “they think they are hurting me. They are not. I am fortunate. My life is, and will be, fine. I have a nice, close, loving family, and have the great honor of serving you as your president. What more can anyone ask for themselves.”

He should then explain that they are conducting their vendetta against him by hurting YOU. Think of what it means to take out a political vendetta not against your opponent (that is what happens in politics), but by making the people suffer.

He might refer to Fort Lee. High level executives in the Port Authority thought it was a great joke to keep school-children on buses for prolonged periods because their parents voted for someone they did not like. That is a microcosm of what Republicans consider it a badge of honor to do to the rest of the country.

[Then, the president should hold up those letters of request for stimulus money again]. “It would be like me denying these requests for stimulus money because the Member of Congress from that district voted against it. I did not do it. Indeed, there are photos of many of you at ribbon-cutting ceremonies hailing the jobs the money brought to your districts.”

You don’t take out political ‘revenge’ against an opponent by injuring the American people, and destroying their lives.

This country needs jobs and to re-build its decaying infrastructure. We know how to do that.

Not only do we know how to do it. Until Republicans just voted against all-things-Obama, we have always done it. We need to do what we have always done before, and stop trying to settle scores with political opponents by taking it out on the American people denying them safe and modern roads, bridges, rail, water, electric grids, airports and schools, and the jobs that would be created to build them.

The President should remind people that he is the President for the next 3 years. If we have a Congress whose primary goal is to obstruct everything he proposes, just because he proposed it, then the American people will be the victims of that vendetta for those 3 years: Young people will continue to find jobs to be scarce and poorly paid. Older people will slip into retirement without that last decade of a good income to make it secure. The debt will continue to rise due to lower revenues from lower growth.

He can remind people that when Congress’s main goal was not to oppose him, they got a lot done for the American people. They stopped the Great Recession from becoming the Great Depression. They saved the auto industry. They expanded health insurance to millions of people, extended Medicare’s solvency by at least a decade, allowed children to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans to age 26, and slowed the growth rate of healthcare expenses. They eliminated banks as the middleman in student loans, saving $50 billion, and a lot more.   . . .


Meanwhile, Paul told me separately, the President should include a list of benefits from Obamacare that the Democrats can all stand and cheer for — leaving the Republicans to decide whether to cheer or not.  For example, I can imagine he might say:

“First off, not a single American need again worry that if she or he loses his job, or wants to leave to start a new business, he’ll be denied affordable coverage because of some preexisting condition.  Ever!  Think about that!”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“And preventive care is now free.  Like so much of the good stuff in the Affordable Care Act, it’s paid for without increasing the deficit.  That’s because the Act requires people to pay a higher tax rate on each additional dollar of dividends and capital gains they make above the first quarter million.  It’s still a lower rate than was charged when Ronald Reagan left office, so it’s not a crazy high rate.  Ronald Reagan was not f0r crazy high tax rates, and these are still lower than his. But they’re higher than they’ve been in quite a while and we should be truly grateful to our most fortunate citizens for making those extra payments.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“Third, lifetime caps are a thing of the past.  If you’re in a really bad accident or hit with a really bad illness, you’re insurance won’t run out and bankrupt you.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“And along those lines, I want to say something about the ‘bronze plans’ the exchanges are offering.  The ones designed to pay only 60% of your bills?  Here’s what most people don’t know: those plans are not generous when you have a relatively small problem.  You’ve got to set aside your own savings for the relatively routine stuff.  But if you have a really big problem?  The kind of problem we all dread and want insurance to protect ourselves and loved ones against?  The million-dollar problem, say?  Or the two-million dollar problem?  Then the bronze plan pays more like 99% of your bills.  So you don’t go bankrupt or lose access to the care you need.  If you ask me, that’s an improvement in the state of our union.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“Insurance companies now have to pay out at last 80% or 85% of each premium dollar providing health care.  To the extent they pay out less, they have to send refunds to their policyholders.  Already hundreds of millions of dollars in refund checks have gone out.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“Did you know we’re closing ‘the doughnut hole’ for seniors?  For their prescription drugs?”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“And here’s something good.  It was a Republican idea, from a Republican think tank — and it was put into practice in Massachusetts by the very successful, sharp businessman who ran against me in the last election, when he was governor — he put it into practice and proved that it worked — and it’s the idea that there should be no free riders. Everyone who can afford it should pay something into the health care system, so it’s there for them when they need it.  The Republicans call it ‘the individual mandate,’ and it’s something the free riders are just going to have to get used to.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“And here’s something else that’s good: health care costs rose last year at a lower rate than in, like, forever.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?

“And there are actually a lot of other good things in this bill, but I would be the first to agree with its critics that it’s not perfect.  And that roll-out in October was horrible.  About the worst ten or so weeks of my Presidency.  It made me crazy.  But we’ve already fixed a lot of it, and here’s the thing: we all need to look for ways to keep improving it, wherever we find problems.  I’m committed to doing that, and I hope my Republican friends will join me in that effort.”

The Democrats all jump to their feet because this is a pretty great thing.  What do the Republicans do?


Tune in tonight at 9pm Eastern time for the real thing.



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