Barack Obama and the Family Budget: A Complete Disconnect
Last week our President held a press conference on the ongoing negotiations regarding the debt ceiling. The presser highlighted some real concerns about President Obama.
The first thing I realized was how truly inarticulate he is when off the teleprompter. Perhaps my political leanings have biased me when it comes to Obama, but I never really thought he was that great of a speaker to begin with. He never really exuded passion or sincerity to me. During his historic campaign, I felt people were so enamored with the color of his skin that they ascribed to him all manner of other imaginary skills in order to make him more palatable as the “historical candidate”. I never really got it.
I remember the first time I ever saw footage of Malcolm X speaking. Not to get all Chris Matthews-y, but it gave me tingles. Although I fundamentally disagreed with his religious values and angry approach to Black empowerment, it suddenly became clear to me how so many people so willingly and gladly followed him. His delivery was passionate, articulate, sincere and persuasive. I find Barack Obama to be nothing of the sort. He is a speech reader. Off of the teleprompter he is monotone, flat and halting. I find it excruciating to watch him hem and haw his way through a press conference.
The second thing that struck me was how truly out of touch this President is with the lives of average American citizens. As he used various analogies of how family households manage their budgets to explain the current budget issues of government, I suddenly realized that this man has no idea what it is like to live in middle America today. None. One particular statement floored me:
“ We have to do it the same way a family would do it. A family, if they get over-extended…they don’t just stop paying their bills…they say, how do we start cutting our monthly costs? We keep on making payments, but we start cutting out the things that aren’t necessary…. we don’t stop sending our kids to college; we don’t stop fixing the boiler or the roof that’s leaking.”
When was the last time this President had to worry about sending his kids to college or fixing up the house? It couldn’t have been any time recently, because if it was he would know that is exactly what happens when you become financially overextended. You most certainly do stop sending your kids to college and fixing things around the house. And that is the problem. We are suffering, Mr. President! We are making tough choices we don’t want to have to make and we expect you in government to do the same.
When my husband and I began our family, we worked at setting aside money for our educating our children. However, those funds have been raided just to keep us afloat. Forget about saving for college. We are more worried about feeding and clothing them now. Hopefully, when their college days arrive, they will be able to work and support their own tuition costs. Our provision of a college education for our children is a dream we’ve let go for now. We’ve had to. We need gas in the car and food in the fridge. We have stopped fixing the things in our home that need to be fixed. I’ve needed a plumber for months to stop some leaks that we can’t fix ourselves. The leaks are enough to drive our water bill up slightly and I hear the dollars signs racking up with every drip. And yet, I can’t afford a one-time lump payment to a professional to fix the problem, so we let it be and choose to give that money to the water company month to month. We need a new major household appliance and the window screens my three-year old pushed out months ago still need to be replaced. But none of that will happen because we are completely tapped dry. That’s what happens when you are overextended. You start cutting out even the necessities. That is why this recession is hurting so badly. It’s not that people are being forced to give up their toys, it’s that they are being forced to give up their most basic comforts, and their dreams.
Our President has been in government so long that he believes during hard times like these, families simply tighten the belt and restructure. However, we families do a lot more than just tighten that belt. There is no “magical” new revenue stream we can tap into to increase our bank accounts and help pay down our debts. We are not the government. There is no one to take money from. We make our own money, and that supply is limited. When the debt accumulates but our salaries stay the same, we start looking at cutting the necessities as well as the perks.
The President was right in the respect that we need to start asking the government to handle its budget problems the same way an average family would handle theirs. However he is completely clueless about how real families handle their budget and income problems. And that scares me. And hurts me. If our own President is so removed from the suffering as to make such an idiot statement, it does not bode well the future fiscal situation of this country. When your own President shows zero knowledge of the day-to-day living situation of average citizens, what hope is there of an outcome that will benefit and help those same people?
There is no way to solve this crisis without pain. We are far, far beyond any type of slow and steady solutions. Cuts will have to be made, cuts that hurt people and their loved ones. There is no way around that. My family has had to go without some pretty important things that mean a lot to us. Its time for our government to do the same.