“I had a dream last night,
About the comin’ fight.
Somebody yelled ‘Attack!’
And there I stood
With an arrow in my back!”
— Larry Verne, “Please Mr. Custer (I Don’t Wanna Go)”
I don’t know exactly why I got nervous hearing the president of the United States tell Dmitri Medvedev, the right-hand man to Russian President (and former KGB honcho) Vladimir Putin that if the Russkis would just be patient until he got past next November’s election, Obama would find it possible to do the things that accountability to the American people won’t let him do right now.
Now that I think about it, I do understand why I’m anxious — just like the fellow in that 1960 novelty song whose commitment to the mission of the 7th Cavalry under Gen. George Armstrong Custer grows weaker as he sees the flaws in his commander’s strategic vision.
This is only the latest sign that we have had (among many) that Gen. George Armstrong Obama, who purports to lead us into safety both at home and abroad, has a second-term agenda whose details we do not yet know.
But if he won’t tell us what they are, that can only be because most of us won’t be very pleased with them — or him, for that matter.
When it comes to the Russians, the now-substantiated fear is that our leader wants to do some dealing regarding American missile defense and our nuclear arsenal that will leave us less well-defended than we are at present.
His proposed military cutbacks are aimed in that direction already, but it’s not troops on the ground that concern Putin, but our strategic arms and defensive capabilities.
Some are saying this is the worst possible construction that can be placed on what the president said, but we are getting used to “worst possible constructions” from this president and his allies in Washington. In fact, they are all too often the only possible constructions of his goals.
Let’s take a couple that are closer to home. We’ve already seen how the Democrats jammed Obamacare through Congress with parliamentary legerdemain without voting by both houses on the revised final version. “You’ll have to pass the bill in order to see what’s in it,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declaimed, and now we have the Supreme Court taking the microscopic view of it that ordinary voters were denied.
Just this week, the Environmental Protection Agency passed rules that observers are saying will make it impossible to build a new coal-fueled power plant, when no such determination has been made by the people’s representatives in Congress.
Not only do we have substantial supplies of coal, which should not arbitrarily be made useless, but the United States is now known to have huge reserves of oil and natural gas, many times the “2 percent of the world’s supplies” that Obama attempts to mislead us about.
However, the EPA has reportedly set its sights on natural gas as well, with pending rules on “fracking” (the means by which gas production has vastly increased in recent years, bringing prosperity to many recession-hit areas in the Midwest) said to reduce its production by up to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, Obama blocks oil drilling on public lands while taking credit for production on private lands he does not control, and offers meaningless support for a small expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline that is a thousand miles from the oil in Canada the original plan was intended to bring to U.S. refineries.
Indeed, what can we trust his word on? Certainly not fiscal matters.
Obama’s own multi-trillion-dollar-deficit budgets are rejected not only by Republicans but by majorities in his own party in the Senate, where Democrats in power have not submitted a budget (as required by law) for three full years.
It seems they, too, are waiting until after the next election to let American voters in on their plans for them.
Who isn’t waiting? Republicans in Congress, most specifically the head of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Ryan, one of the people who should have run for president this year but didn’t, produced a budget that, while not cutting spending fast enough for the members of his party most closely tied to tea party interests, still went much further toward fiscal sanity than our deficit-loving president.
Details of Ryan’s plan are widely available, but briefly, it would (in the words of a National Review editorial) “spend $5 trillion less than President Obama plans to spend over the next decade. It repeals Obamacare. It limits Medicaid spending by offering states a capped amount of funds, ending the current practice of bribing them to expand coverage. It commits to a tax code that raises the same revenue, as a proportion of the economy, as we have historically raised, but does so with lower tax rates, less hostile treatment of capital, and fewer loopholes.”
And it offers a different plan for Medicare reform than the one four conservative senators put forth two weeks ago. Instead of subsidizing insurance purchases from the same options available to federal workers, as the senators proposed, Ryan says that “the size of the subsidy should depend on the results of a bidding process in which insurers in each of Medicare’s administrative regions compete to cover the minimum benefits package at the lowest price. In addition … one of the options seniors would be able to choose would be a traditional fee-for-service plan run by the government.”
By maintaining the current plan as an option, Ryan offers less disruption while sacrificing some of the savings of the senators’ plan.
That may be an attempt to make it more palatable to current Medicare recipients, but in truth, no one thinks Ryan’s plan is going anywhere, because it has no chance of approval in the Democratic Senate — and neither does the senators’ plan.
These plans are instead campaign documents, telling American voters who realize that we cannot continue our current deficits without disaster that Republicans are willing to confront the problems Democrats continue to avoid — while demagoguing those who offer potential solutions.
Next November, as hostile arrows continue to fly all around us, we will have a chance to say, “Please, Gen. Obama. We really don’t want to go with you — so we’re not going anywhere.”
“But you are.”
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.