Commentary: President needs to listen to other ideas about the 'how'

President needs to listen to other ideas about the ‘how’

Posted: February 11, 2015 at 1 a.m.

If it were just about the words and the delivery, I would concede that the president's State of the Union speech last month was a successful, unifying message for the country. He talked about the importance of working hard and its connection to success. He suggested to CEOs that it would be a good idea to hire veterans and that we need more manufacturing jobs here in the United States. Who could be against that?

I could even support his idea that we need to shrink the wealth gap here in this country. I did a YouTube video two years ago in support of that idea, and I still support that objective today. I might even be convinced we need more revenue (code name for new taxes), but not to give to the government to squander or to politicians to steal, but to reduce our debt.

It's not what the president wants to do that I disagree with, its how he suggests that we get there. Do I think we need to improve the education system in America to compete for the future? Absolutely. Do I think free community college is how to accomplish this? Absolutely not. First of all, nothing is free, and the sooner we all learn that, the better. Second, anything you give away soon becomes worthless.

For almost every "what" on which the president and I agree, I have a different "how" to get there. And that is what makes this country great. We all have the right to express those beliefs, and the president should be listening to some of those different "hows."

And if the president really is willing to listen to other ideas, he has a strange way of showing it. In the beginning of his speech he talked about creating a spirit of cooperation between his office and Congress. This was closely followed by a record number of veto threats. This may be a technique taught in the Obama School of Cooperation, but it doesn't work in the real world. Slapping the other side in the face before a negotiation usually poisons the compromise.

The president also painted a picture of the world that even his friends at MSNBC suggested was "out of touch" with reality. We have real problems with countries like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Yemen, etc. While it might be politically expedient to ignore them in this speech, the people of this country deserve the truth and deserve a plan to resolve these issues.

Maybe the worst illusion of the night, however, is how the president seemed to make our debt disappear. He made only one minor comment about our deficit, which could lead us to believe that our spending problems are over. He didn't mention the fact we have now saddled future generations with $18 trillion in debt.

He also didn't mention our plan for the foreseeable future is to carry a World War II-type debt load, which will weaken our country, jeopardize our children's future and diminish our country's ability to react to future crises.

He didn't mention that the Congressional Budget Office projects that our yearly deficits will drift back up to the trillion dollar mark by 2024 at which point our total debt will exceed $25 trillion. At that point, and at the interest rates projected by the CBO, the service on our debt will exceed $1.2 trillion a year. That is about six times what it is today, and will be larger than national defense and Medicare combined.

By this time, of course, President Obama will be playing golf every day and most of Congress will be on the 19th hole. But the youth of today will be dealing with the irresponsible spending of the early 21st century. That is, unless you make our (your) debt an issue today.

We all want the same "whats." We want good schools and clean air and water. We want hard-working Americans to fully enjoy the fruits of the American dream and we want America to be safe. We only differ on "how" we should achieve these goals. Please, Mr. President, listen to the other patriotic Americans who may even disagree with your "hows." You may find some truth that will help move our country forward.

The Keystone Pipeline would be a good place to start. It is supported across the country by more than a 2-to-1 margin. It has already passed the House with bi-partisan support, and will most assuredly do the same in the Senate. All the president has to do is sign it. This would be a sign that he really is willing to reach across the aisle as he has so often suggested.

Kevin Canfield of Springdale is author of "Mastering Sales." He also blogs at kevincanfield.blogspot.com. Email him at Kkcbsu@cox.net.

Commentary on 02/11/2015