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DADTThis past week saw the passage of two historic pieces of legislation: the repeal on the ban on openly gay people serving in the military (aka: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – DADT), and extension/expansion of the 2002 Bush Tax Cuts. But just because these bills have now passed, doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done.

One of the reasons this “Lame duck” Congress has been able to get so much done is because of the “time’s running out” effect, with members of Congress eager to go home for the holidays, and Democratic leaders in the House & Senate declaring their readiness to work straight through the holidays if that’s what it takes to get things done.

Regarding the repeal of DADT, everyone agreed it was desirable for Congress to repeal the law rather than the courts because now the military “has time to figure out how it will implement the new policy”… 30 days for all five branches of the military to submit their plans, followed by another 30 days to actually implement it. During those 60 days, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” remains the law of the land, and military personnel can still be discharged for violating it. Now… and I mean NOW… President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, needs to declare “an immediate moratorium on the expulsion of any service member under DADT for the next 60 days” while the policy is implemented. Why? A number of reasons. First, now that Congress has clearly proclaimed that DADT has become an intolerable policy, the very idea that it is still okay to execute the rule for another 60 days is abhorrent. Second, with the clock running out on this Congress, I fear the “time’s running out” effect may result in a flurry of accusations and outings by those who seek to “get rid of” troops the homophobes might not like before they are “stuck with them forever”. A potential “witch hunt” on steroids. Having the president declare a moratorium neutralizes this threat. Defanging this offensive practice so that it does not claim even one more victim is a moral imperative.

Regarding the extension/expansion of the horrendous Bush Tax Cuts… you already know my position there (if not, just go back over the past few weeks’ entries). But now that the bill has passed, there is still this tiny matter of job creation. Since (as I’ve pointed out) tax cuts are not stimulative, we certainly can’t just sit back now and wait for the tax cuts that got us into this mess, to now get us out. Creating jobs in this disastrous economy is a moral imperative. Question is: “How?”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates already gave us the means last May: “We are spending too much of Defense.” There are Stimulus Funds to be found in them thar’ Defense Cuts. President Obama also reasserted his position last week that we will finally begin a draw-down of troops in Afghanistan this July. At the same time, troop reductions in Iraq will continue too. That’s more savings. All those returning soldiers will need jobs. Using all that money saved in Defense Cuts and reduced troop numbers, President Obama should have, not only the financial capital but the political capital needed next year to invest in a Federal jobs program to put those returning soldiers back to work. Deficit neutral because it uses saved Defense funds to pay for it, Republicans could find themselves on the losing side of Public Opinion once again if they try to obstruct/defeat a “jobs program for returning veterans” in the name of “Deficit Reduction” that they just proved to the world they don’t give a damn about. My own hope is that, seeing the success of such a program on the small scale with veterans might finally sway public support for a larger “WPA-style” work program for the masses. (I created a new video last week debunking the Republican myth that FDR’s jobs programs were a failure and it took WWII to pull us out of the Great Depression:)
 


 

My fear though is that we’re coming to find that Barack Obama is only a Social Liberal and a Fiscal Conservative. Think about it. Every piece of “Progressive” legislation he has passed (“Lilly Ledbetter”, “DADT” repeal, etc) have been “Social” issues, whereas his economic policies (extending the tax cuts, privatizing health care reform, etc) have all been Conservative. So my hopes of this president doing ANYTHING that involves DIRECT job creation by the Federal Government instead of looking to the private sector to solve all his problems for him, are slim.

Another thing that now needs to be done: Passing new green-energy standards/regulations that force corporations to create jobs to meet those standards. During the “energy crunch” of the 1970’s, it took the raising of “CAFE” (car mileage) standards to force the U.S. auto industry to build cars that could compete with low-cost, high-mileage “econoboxes” flooding in from Japan. Now in May of last year, President Obama already raised CAFE standards to 35.5mpg by 2016, so I don’t see him advancing that deadline. But there are other things he could do. Exxon/Mobile has been running ads bragging of technology they are developing to create bio-diesel from algae. Let’s make them turn that idea into a reality. Let’s pass a law that says 5% of our national fuel production must come from algae-based bio-diesel by the year 2016. This will create green jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and dramatically cut the nation’s CO2 emissions… all of which are moral imperatives.

For reasons even *I* am still unaware, I am still holding out hope that… like with Bill Clinton before him, this president will find his mojo in the second half of his first term, faced with an obsessed Republican controlled Congress (even in the Senate, pending filibuster reform) that spends every waking moment trying to discredit his presidency. Fighting back and not allowing the GOP to sink this country via partisan games is another “moral imperative”. Now if only we could pass The DREAM Act.

Yes we might

 


 
And as usual: a reminder to Sign my Green Jobs petition:
Support green jobs NOW!

 


 

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