Pres­i­dent lurches to­ward cen­ter on econ­omy

Chicago Sun-Times - - News -

sion by small busi­ness.”

There was a wide and ap­peal­ing pop­ulist streak in the pres­i­dent’s com­ments. He re­frained from at­tack­ing the banks but ac­knowl­edged that “we all hated the bank bailout.”

It was hard to dis­agree when he de­fended his pro­posal to put new fees or taxes on the large banks, say­ing “they can af­ford it, if they can af­ford to pay huge bonuses.”

Even re­dis­tri­bu­tion seemed ap­peal­ing when Obama promised to use some of that re­paid bailout money to give to com­mu­nity banks, who would pre­sum­ably be more will­ing to make loans.

He promised small busi­ness tax cred­its for hir­ing, and the elim­i­na­tion of cap­i­tal gains on small busi­ness in­vest­ment, while end­ing tax breaks for “com­pa­nies that send jobs over­seas.”

Ed­u­ca­tion would re­ceive more fund­ing (even in the midst of a pro­posed bud­get freeze) and stu­dents would pay only 10 per­cent of their in­come to re­pay stu­dent loans. Those who en­ter pub­lic ser­vice would find their loans for­given af­ter 10 years. And gov­ern­ment would no longer pay banks sub­si­dies to un­der­write stu­dent loans. In place of that pro­gram would be a tax credit for col­lege.

Health care re­form would pro­tect Amer­i­cans from the in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, as well as save money for the gov­ern­ment. Mil­i­tary fam­i­lies would re­ceive more sup­port. Only home­own­ers seemed to be for­got­ten, with vague prom­ises to make re­fi­nanc­ing eas­ier.

The pres­i­dent promised some­thing to every­one. But he got his only real laugh (well, more like a snicker) when he ex­plained that his spending freeze would take ef­fect only in 2011 “when the econ­omy is stronger.” Any con­sumer try­ing to bud­get in this weak econ­omy knows that you can’t wait to cut your spending till bet­ter days come along.

To­day, Se­nate Democrats will call for a vote to raise the ceil­ing on the na­tional debt to an as­tound­ing $14.3 tril­lion dol­lars. Con­trast that with the pres­i­dent’s strong prom­ise: “I refuse to pass this [fis­cal] prob­lem to an­other gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­cans.”

The num­bers speak for them­selves. And that’s the Sav­age Truth.

WASH­ING­TON — Reach­ing out to a skep­ti­cal gay com­mu­nity, Pres­i­dent Obama urged Congress to re­peal the ban on gays and les­bians serv­ing openly in the mil­i­tary, but he didn’t make a com­mit­ment to sus­pend the prac­tice in the in­terim or is­sue a dead­line.

Obama’s ref­er­ence to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” pol­icy took only 32 words of his State of the Union ad­dress, but was crit­i­cized by Democrats and Repub­li­cans.

But Rick Gar­cia of Equal­ity Illi­nois, a statewide gay rights group, said the move is long over­due.

“He promised it in his cam­paign, and we’ve been wait­ing for it. So we’re thrilled he’s fi­nally got­ten around to it,” he said. AP


Pres­i­dent Obama greets mem­bers of Congress be­fore his ad­dress. At right is Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Tim Gei­th­ner.

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