Thursday, February 05, 2009
Obama-nation Day 16
Our Change New World continues apace with the Obama administration moving promptly and correctly on a number of fronts.
The President announced limits on executive pay for companies receiving taxpayer-subsidized bailouts of their self-induced declines.
Such an act under the Bush administration would have been unthinkable.
"This is America," the President said. "We don't disparage wealth. We don't begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we believe that success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset -- and rightfully so -- are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers."
highwayscribery, for the record, gets upset at the outsized bonuses and golden parachutes earned by executives even when companies thrive. It is looting what belongs to all the workers and contributes to the dismaying drift of national wealth upward to the richest one percent..
Elsewhere, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar silenced certain environmental critics by dashing the Bush administration's fourth quarter effort at leasing some 77 parcels of land to oil and natural gas companies in Utah.
The "Washington Post" reports that, "Salazar's decision, which reverses the Bush administration's move to allow drilling on about 130,000 acres near pristine areas such as Nine Mile Canyon, Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument -- is one of a series of steps that the new administration and congressional Democrats are planning to reshape federal regulation of drilling, mining, lumbering and other resource-tapping activities both on U.S. soil and offshore."
That doesn't have mean an end to energy exploration. It just means the eight-year fire sale Bush threw for his industrial cronies is over and we'll start doing these things, er, um intelligently again.
It was part of a move the Bush crowd made to govern after they were out of government, which has failed remarkably. When you leave, you leave, and whatever you made "law" can be unmade...eventually.
The president, either before or after he capped the pay of greedy executives, then signed a measure appropriating $32.8 billion for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. It's a move that will extend coverage to 4 million kids the former president didn't think the country could afford.
"I refuse to accept that millions of our children fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs," said Obama. "In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to trade-offs or negotiations, and health care for our children is going to be one of those obligations.."
To which we have nothing to add.
Meantime, Energy Secretary Steven Chu was reversing eight years of government denial on global warming in an interview with the "Capitol Weekly."
"I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he soberly informed. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. And I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going either."
Maybe that's some kind of Republican wet dream since their presence and influence in the state is nil. If California dries up, there's going to be a big migration back into all those empty red states.
But that would make them Blue.
And speaking of heat, the "Los Angeles Times" reports how the President is now turning it up on Republicans.
The piece by Peter Nicholas observed that Obama went a long way toward appealing to the GOP and upsetting his own party in crafting a stimulus plan, "that relied heavily on tax cuts rooted in Republican economic doctrine."
For Democrats such capitulation has always been what "bipartisan" truly means, and it seems Republicans have grown so used to it, they forgot to pat the president on the back.
In fact, as Michael Hiltzik, also of the "Los Angeles Times," noted, the GOP has engaged in a deceptive and hypocritical campaign to discredit the stimulus plan by isolating specific measures and distorting their reach and purpose to the American people.
Having extended a hand in cooperation, Obama was met with the familiar fist of GOP obstinacy. And he didn't like it.
The Writer President, in an Op-ed penned for the "Washington Post," had this to say:
"In the past few days, I've heard criticisms of this plan that frankly echo the very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis in the first place -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems, that we can address this enormous crisis with half steps and piecemeal measures and tinkering around the edges, that we can ignore fundamental challenges, like the high cost of healthcare, and still expect our economy and our country to thrive. I reject these theories and, by the way, so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change."
Now we're getting somewhere!
But there is more to go.
Yesterday, in Los Angeles, the Drug Enforcement Agency applied its usual Gestapo tactics in shutting down some medical marijuana dispensaries.
California, for those of you who don't know, approved by way of ballot initiative the establishment of such outlets 13 years ago.
We hope that, as Attorney General Eric Holder's influence permeates the Department of Justice, this choice made by California voters is respected and the harassment stopped.
California is entitled to some deference while the federal government deserves a more humane face.