State of the Union – Sure, but do we have the money for that?

The SOTU always sounds so pretty. Giving all kids the chance to succeed in their education, helping build businesses, constructing new roads, expanding light rail, which in some cases is faster than taking an airplane and doesn’t require pat-downs. (President Obama didn’t have many good one liners last night so little moments like that packed a big punch.)

I liked all of these things. I liked the Chilean miner stuff, the Allen Brothers’ Solar Panel stuff, lots of good things, things that make me happy to ponder upon, things that make me think, “I want to live there. That sounds like a dad-gum awesome country.”

And as much as there have been snickers about Members of Congress sitting together, purposefully integrating the two parties as an ineffectual symbolic gesture, I liked it. I like symbolic gestures. I think they’re a good starting place. When I’m sick and Dan buys me flowers, I know they won’t cure me, unless they’re some stinkin’ special Tangled-style magic flowers, but knowing that he wants to help (or even that he’s willing to help when asked – sometimes I ask for flowers) is comforting to me.

So I say, “Good Job Members of Congress! Thanks for playing a bit nicer last night. Let’s take that ball and run with it. Pretty soon you’ll be giving each other mani-pedis and fixing Social Security together.”

I think my favorite line from President Obama’s speech last night was near the end when he said forcefully, “If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it. I will veto it.”

I turned to Dan and said, “REALLY?!? That is awesome. The President is going to veto all bills with earmarks. Really?!? Doesn’t that mean he’ll veto all bills?” I hope he does and I hope things change but this has the ring of “Read my lips. No new taxes,” to me.

Earmarks and crazy amendments to bills are just the way business is done in Washington. They’re the reason I am very reticent to join a campaign in favor of any bill. It doesn’t matter how awesome the bill looks on the surface, I rarely come out strongly in favor of one because who knows what’s swimming down below?

It may be a bill for better education funding… that also buys a congressman a fleet of ponies, and outlaws the polio vaccine in favor of an over-the-counter polio remedy that some pharmaceutical lobbyist thinks we should be selling more of, and sends all McDonald’s Franchise owners to Disneyland where they will learn how to infuse Big Macs with methamphetamines.

I wish the process could be simplified. For all the talk about helping the average American, they sure make it hard for us to figure out exactly how we’re being helped.

Also, I don’t think we have the money for any of this. I’ll rephrase. I know we don’t have the money for any of this. Did the President just say he was going to find extra money by doing a massive re-org/layoff of departments of the federal government because that’s what it sounded like. That is a good starting place.

Whenever I suggest to Dan that we buy a fleet of ponies or plan a trip to Disneyland (with or without illicit drugs), he asks me if we have the money for that. And I check and then we usually don’t do the thing, although ponies are SOOOO awesome, because we’d have to go into debt.

Going into debt isn’t even the issue right now in our country. We’re trying to slightly lower the amount by which we get deeper in debt every month by a few billion dollars here and there. I can’t even wrap my brain around the immensity of the problem.

I want to plug the entire federal budget into YNAB and then start slashing things, things I like, things I use, things I care about. We don’t have the money for that.

I recently got a call from a political pollster who asked me questions like, “Do you favor a massive increase in taxes or would you rather kill old people?” and “Are you a democrat or do you hate children?” Eventually I just stopped the survey because the options were so ridiculous.

Maybe we just need to wipe out the entire budget and start from scratch. A certain amount of money for old people, a whole bunch for children, throw some money at education, health care, job creation, road construction. Heck, I don’t even mind if you spend a little something to defend our country. But I don’t need a pony until the deficit is gone. I can wait.

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3 Responses to State of the Union – Sure, but do we have the money for that?

  1. Emily G says:

    I teach American Government to college freshman and I often find so many frustrations for both them and me when I make them watch/analyze the state of the union. I’ve decided that all it is is a feel good, “Yea we’re American’s!” speech that never changes anything. I too am shocked by the vetoing of all earmarks. It sounds nice, but good luck with that.

  2. I find it frustrating the way certain government functions that I find really pointless stay well-funded, or when people that I know are capable of getting a job continue to receive government benefits (yes, there are people who truly need government help, but I personally know people who don’t and yet continue to take advantage of them). And then, because of the way different funding comes from different government sources, my local school board decides to shut down my daughter’s local elementary school and ship kids to a bigger school who knows where (that’s what’s going down in my town right now). This school closure is the first time that I, as an adult, have truly felt the impact of a government funding situation, and it’s making me more frustrated than ever with the way the system works. I don’t have any solutions–just frustrations!

  3. Caryn says:

    I, too, would love to go through the budget and get rid of so many items that we really don’t need. There are lots of better ways to use our money. It’s why one of my favorite scenes in any movie is the one in Dave where he slashes the budget to make room for shelters. It’s such a feel-good scene, one that’s easy to identify with since I think we all wish we could do that.

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