It’s been awhile since you and I chatted at the Christmas Tree lighting at The White House back in 2011, so I thought I’d drop you a note after seeing your State of the Union address last night. Barry, I’ve gotta say, I’m more than a little disappointed.
Your speech was technically good. You reached the crescendos at just the right places. Smiling and pointing when the gestures were appropriate was a good touch. When you talked about Boehner’s dad and the Speaker gave you a thumbs up, well, I almost teared up right alongside him.
But as far as substance and anything meaningful, your speech left a lot to be desired. Basically it was your campaign speech all over again. Full of promises of what you were going to do, but short on details of how you were going to do it. I got kinda tired part way through it, but I did manage to put down some notes to share with you.
1. Your thoughts on minimum wage are great sounding, but raising minimum wage isn’t the answer. You, and Congress, need to look at a maximum wage law. You want to sign an executive order that means something? Then sign one that keeps CEOs to a certain percentage of income over their lowest paid employees. If the CEO wants a raise, then he has to raise everyone’s income at the company to stay legal. Simple.
2. Retirement savings? You’ve gotta be kidding me, Barry. With record numbers of unemployed and so many working families on food stamps, just where do you expect the savings for retirement to come from? Do something to put Americans back to meaningful work that brings in a decent pay, then let’s talk about retirement savings.
3. Your ideas on the environment are, well, lame. Start taxing big oil and make those corporations pay their fair share of the burden. It’s hardly “equality” when I paid more in taxes last year than Shell Oil.
4. Repeal the National Defense Authorization Act. You can do it. The NDAA, which Bush intended as a weapon in the “war on terrorism,” is being used against Americans. Barry, that’s not fair; it’s just not the American Way. Step up to the plate and swipe some ink across the dotted line. Doing so will show that you recognize that the NDAA is more of a threat to personal freedom than anything a terrorist could do.
I also noticed some things you said that just weren’t quite true. Basically a few tall tales. I’ll be generous though and just call them “overstatements.”
You remember boasting of business creating more than 8 million new jobs? Well, you left out the fact that the government lost jobs. So, overall, the country has lost employees, not gained.
You boasted that America has reduced the total carbon pollution more than any other country. Yeah, but America produces more carbon pollution than any other country too.
You bragged about how federal deficits have been cut in half. True, but they’re still at historically high levels.
Well, I could go on, but I think you see where I’m coming from. My advice? You’ve got two years left. Be courageous and make some real, meaningful changes to the way things work. I think you can do it, but if you need some advice, let me know.
Barry, I’ll be waiting for you at Starbucks at the corner of 14 and K in Washington if you want to talk some more.
Editorial by Jerry Nelson