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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Editorial: Obama moving fast, but keep your eye on Congress”

    It’s safe to say that President Barack Obama survived his first close-up encounter with Congress. His address Tuesday night lasted 52 minutes; according to an article in the Associated Press published in Wednesday’s Daily Wildcat, it was interrupted by applause no fewer than 61 times.

    That applause may not have drowned out more than a word or two of the speech, but it may drown out the fact that the same Congress could well turn out to be the undoing of everything Obama promised that night.

    Obama’s speech was rich with ambitious promises. He vowed to fix education and health care, to end our dependence on foreign oil and increase energy efficiency – all goals that, whatever methods they might prefer, most Americans would agree are important to achieve. In the Republican Party’s official response to the speech, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana acknowledged the importance of all of them, and based his criticism on “”an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government.””

    Part of the key to fixing the economy, Obama rightly stated, is cleaning up the country’s $1.3 trillion budget deficit, which he promised to cut in half by 2013. But what led to that massive deficit in the first place? Part of the reason is the Iraq War, which Obama’s presidential predecessor inflicted on us.

    But that war was overwhelmingly supported by Congress, and legislative excesses certainly account for a good deal of the budget hole. That’s why Obama focused part of his speech at urging legislators to rein in their spendthrift impulses and natural desire to back “”worthy priorities for which there are no dollars.””

    Some complained that Obama’s speech was heavy on rhetoric and short on strategy. As the AP put it, his calls for change and reform were “”lacking many specifics.””

    But Obama is wise not to attempt to tell Congress exactly what to do. Outlining a strategy, selling it to voters, and leaving the details to sympathetic lawmakers is the best way to ensure that reform happens. The annals of history are littered with presidents whose high hopes were dashed by uncooperative legislators.

    Bill Clinton vowed to pass comprehensive health care. A balky Congressðÿdominated by Democrats, not Republicans, ðfrustrated his hopes. George W. Bush toured the country, trying to stir up support for his plan to overhaul Social Security, yet Congress remained intractable.

    Contrariwise, a Congress that decided to act decisively to fix the country’s problems could run roughshod over any president. For all the talk of the “”imperial presidency,”” the legislative branch holds most of the cards when it comes to domestic issues. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, Congress hasn’t fixed the country’s problems because Congress is part of the problem.

    This is why citizens who wish to see the country fixed, ðits government’s excesses curbed, its mammoth deficit punctured and its economy’s decline reversed ðshould set their sights on Congress.

    Legislators who insist on flinging money at cherished causes in the face of a recession should be singled out and targeted for defeat come election time. The same goes for legislators of either party who care more about cutting a new president down to size than fixing the country’s problems.

    It’s not easy to stay focused on a huge and varied legislature when a glamorous new president is on the screen. But ultimately it’s on them, not him, that our future depends.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Laura Donovan, Justyn Dillingham, Taylor Kessinger, Heather Price-Wright, and Nickolas Seibel.

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