Day Two: The State of the Union Game Show

Yesterday I posted excerpts from the State of the Union Addresses of Presidents Reagan, Clinton, GW Bush, and Obama. All of these quotes came from the first State of the Union delivered after the their reelection. I asked the readers to take a guess as to which President said which thing. Today I will present more excerpts on specific topics including health care, Social Security/Medicare, and the role of small business in our economy.

There will be one more set of these in the coming days dealing with science, immigration, and the environment. It is my hope that you will read these carefully and consider how they reflect upon the man who said them. We have these images of the various presidents which are based almost entirely upon our feelings for that President. By looking at the actual words without a picture of the man you said them, perhaps both your image of the Presidents can change, and our willingness to seek bi-partisan action on today’s problems can be enhanced.

The idea for this series has its genesis in how President Obama is spoken about on Facebook and other posting boards. The seemingly deep-seated hate is expressed in words I would not use on my worst enemy. But why? What it is about this President that prompts people to publicly vilify him? We’ll return to this question once we’ve looked at the policy statements of President Obama and the three two-term Presidents who preceded him.

Before I present the new excerpts, let’s see how you did on yesterday’s quotes. Speech I was from this year’s address by President Obama. It has the classic Obama themes praising diversity, hard work, and hope. He also lets us know that he expects a change in our system which financially awards the very few at the expense of the many.

Speech II is from Ronald Reagan in 1985. It too reflects the themes President Reagan rode into office with in 1981. The idea that our country had lost its confidence and that we were no longer viewed from abroad as a unwavering super power show up in this brief introduction.

Speech III is from George W Bush in 2005. His introduction paints his first term in very positive terms and points to his desire to leave office in four years leaving the country with more hope for the future.

Speech IV is from Bill Clinton in 1997. It focuses mostly on what the President sees as the promise for the future.

How did you do?

Here are today’s excepts. First, on the relationship between government and business, especially small business.

Speech I:
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits.

Speech II:
There are some who say that growth initiatives must await final action on deficit reductions. Well, the best way to reduce deficits is through economic growth. More businesses will be started, more investments made, more jobs created, and more people will be on payrolls paying taxes. The best way to reduce government spending is to reduce the need for spending by increasing prosperity. Each added percentage point per year of real GNP growth will lead to cumulative reduction in deficits of nearly $200 billion over 5 years.

Speech III:
Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America. That’s what tax reform can deliver. That’s what we can do together.

The second set relates to health care.

Speech I.
We must continue, step-by-step, to give more families access to affordable, quality health care. Forty million Americans still lack health insurance. Ten million children still lack health insurance. Eighty percent of them have working parents who pay taxes. That is wrong. My balanced budget will extend health coverage to up to five million of those children. Since nearly half of all children who lose their insurance do so because their parents lose or change jobs, my budget will also insure that people who temporarily lose their jobs can still afford to keep their health insurance. No child should be without a doctor just because a parent is without a job.

Speech II.
To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable, and give families greater access to good coverage, and more control over their health decisions. I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive health care agenda — with tax credits to help low-income workers buy insurance, a community health center in every poor county, improved information technology to prevent medical errors and needless costs, association health plans for small businesses and their employees, expanded health savings accounts, and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs, and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need.

Finally, the Presidents speak about Social Security and Medicare.

Speech I:
Now, some in this Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits. That idea is even worse. Yes, the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population. And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms – otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.

Speech II:
Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th Century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century. The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together to strengthen and save Social Security. Today, more than 45 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, and millions more are nearing retirement — and for them the system is sound and fiscally strong. I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you. For you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.

Speech III:
We should not pass any measure that threatens Social Security. We don’t need a Constitutional amendment — we need action. Whatever our differences, we should balance the budget now, and then, for the long-term health of our society, we must agree to a bipartisan process to preserve Social Security and reform Medicare, so that these fundamental programs will be as strong for our children as they are for our parents.

Speech IV:
First, the social safety net for the elderly, the needy, the disabled, and unemployed will be left intact. Growth of our major health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, will be slowed, but protections for the elderly and needy will be preserved.

Post your guesses in the comments section or by email as you did yesterday. Good luck!

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