Barack Obama’s Statement At The Fort Hood Memorial

Above is the video of Barack Obama’s remarks at the Fort Hood memorial ceremony. The transcript is below:

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Obama Expresses Reservations About Stupak Amendment

Yesterday it appeared that Obama was willing to accept the Stupak amendment which would restrict funding of abortion by private insurance companies if this was the cost of passing health care reform. On an interview with ABC News he has expressed reservations about the restrictions:

President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them.

“There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo” on abortion, Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News. “And that’s the goal.”

On the one hand, Mr. Obama said, “we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.”

On the other hand, he said, he wanted to make sure “we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices,” because he had promised that “if you’re happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, it’s not going to change.”

The irony of the situation is that conservatives are bringing about the problem they have been warning about. While the initial health care legislation does not intrude upon decisions made between a patient and their doctor, the Stupak amendment does restrict such choices with regards to abortion rights.

There is reason for hope that the restrictions of the Stupak amendment will not make it through the Senate. Barbara Boxer has stated that there are not enough votes to add these restrictions in the Senate as it would take sixty votes to change the current language related to abortion.

“If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart [a decades-long] compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it,” Boxer said. “And I believe in our Senate we can hold it.”

“It is a much more pro-choice Senate than it has been in a long time,” she added. “And it is much more pro-choice than the House.”

GOP Chairman Michael Steele Says White Republicans Are Afraid of Him

steele

The problem of racism on the right has received increased examination since the election of Barack Obama. Sometimes it is best to just listen to what Republicans have to say. Republicans tried to respond to the election of Barack Obama by choosing the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee. On Sunday Michael Steele said that white Republicans are afraid of him. This is from an interview on TVOne’s Washington Watch:

MARTIN: But your candidates got to talk to them. One of the criticisms I’ve always had is Republicans — white Republicans — have been scared of black folks.

STEELE: You’re absolutely right. I mean I’ve been in the room and they’ve been scared of me. I’m like, “I’m on your side” and so I can imagine going out there and talking to someone like you, you know, [say] “I’ll listen.” And they’re like “Well.” Let me tell you. You saw in Christie and you saw in McDonnell a door open because they went in and engaged. McDonnell was very deliberate about spending…

Obama and Unemployment

Republicans would love to blame Obama for the unemployment rate but this would also contradict their belief that the government cannot do much to affect the economy. Libertarian Megan McArdle is honest about this in defending Obama against an op-ed by Charles Blow which does blame him:

The president has very little control over employment in the economy.  The stimulus undoubtedly kept the economy from losing even more jobs than he did.  But the economy is undergoing a hell of a deep structural adjustment:  from debtors to savers, from housing-and-finance led growth to . . . well, if we knew that, the recession would already be over.  Those adjustments need to happen, because the previous situation was totally unsustainable.  But they definitionally imply higher unemployment and less consumer demand in the short run.

A third stimulus might lower the unemployment rate a little, at least from where it would otherwise be.  But it would not put us back at 5% unemployment, and it would have a lot of other costs, including further risking our AAA bond rating. Stimulus is at best an incredibly blunt instrument.  And it is made blunter by all of the procedural checks we’ve accumulated over decades of government growth, not to mention very powerful public sector unions.  FDR could tell his government to go out and hire people to paint hallways or build dams.  The current president needs Environmental Impact Statements, public review periods, and the okay of ACFSME.

The fact is, most of the time, the best the president can do is avoid making things much worse.  And though I have many disagreements with the specifics of Obama’s policies, I’d say that largely, he’s kept from making stuff worse, and eased the worst of the damage on hurting families.  We could be doing more with more generous unemployment benefits or other income assistance, less with atrocious auto bailouts.  But the economics of recession is truly a dismal science, and demanding that the president cure the recession is about as effective as expecting him to cure Hep C.

Blow is certainly right that Obama and Democrats will pay a price in 2010 and 2012 if the employment picture doesn’t dramatically improve.  Life is unfair that way.  But op-ed columnists should not pile on with fruitless demands for radically lower unemployment.

Unfortunately jobless recoveries have become the norm following the last few recessions. Unemployment remains high after last year’s economic turn down since many companies went under and are not around to hire even in an economy. Companies which have survived changed how they do business so that they do not require as many employees.