Same ‘O’ plan as before

Myself along with every other commentator whether they are liberal or conservative has been accused once or twice of not reading what the other guy is standing for. We are often accused of either drinking the same Kool-Aid as the people we agree with most of the time or having a daily talking points fax which we receive to make sure that the daily spin machine is running smoothly.

Well, let me assure you that today, I will be talking about “The Blueprint for Change” that presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is currently trying to sell America on. So far, he seems to be doing a good job as salesman because the latest poll numbers has Obama edging out McCain. I have downloaded and read the document from front to back … and I am still not convinced that he is the right person for the job.

Obama’s plans and promises are nothing more than tax code hocus pocus and replays of promises that I heard from other political candidates on both sides of the aisle. Although I admit, this plan has a splash of liberalism with a dash of socialism light on the side. I do realize that the government is about to bailout a lot of rich people right now. I am not really all that cool with it either because the economic mess is really the fault of our love of de-regulation in the 90s. But now to the task at hand…

The blueprint includes universal healthcare, which was first proposed in the 90s. Under the Obama plan he will “make available a new national health plan so all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, can buy affordable health coverage” similar to the plan available to members of congress. I have to be honest with you. Whenever I smell government getting involved with something that private industry can do better (provided that the screws are put to them), I get nervous because it will cost money AND it will be a big bureaucracy. I think we have enough of those.

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Another universal idea being proposed is universal pre-school. He is proposing a “Zero to Five” plan “to provide critical young support to young children and their parents.” The emphasis will be placed on early care and education for infants preparing them to be ready for kindergarten. Obama will create grants to help states move to voluntary, universal pre-school. Again, my problem is that it will be government-run and more bureaucracy.

Another problem I have with the blueprint for change is the idea to reform No Child Left Behind. While I am all for teachers not having to teach to a test, I am totally against what he is proposing as far as recruiting teachers. While I don’t think it’s fair to give college students a free ride just by checking a box (I believe they will have to earn it like everyone else,) Obama does not offer any ideas to hold teachers accountable for not doing their job. Having a master teacher mentor a new teacher is all well in good, but mentoring can only go so far.

Then there is the number of tax cuts and credits that Obama is willing to pay out. He has yet to offer a plan on how to pay for all of this other than last month where he said that taxes would be going up for you if you make over a certain amount (I believe it’s $150,000 if memory serves correctly.) Among the tax credits, Obama is proposing a “Making Work Pay” tax credit where you can earn up to $500 per person ($1000 per working family) as a way to restore fairness to the tax code. He says that this would eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. Let’s be real, $500 is not a lot these days, let alone a $1000. I doubt that 10 million Americans will see such a break.

Obama is also proposing to:

  • create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide tax relief to homeowners who do not itemize.
  • eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 a year.
  • expand the child and dependent care tax credit
  • establish a $4000 tax credit in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year

The above tax proposals are all well and good, but this is tax code hocus pocus. It will look good on paper (and I don’t mean our paychecks) but I believe that the status quo will continue.

In addition to the fiscal voodoo, I am also unimpressed with other initiatives he has promised. I have heard many Democrats (and some Republicans) promise the following items before and failed to deliver on the goods:

  • Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement
  • Eliminate Sentencing Disparities
  • Guaranteed Paid Sick Days
  • Ending Health Care Disparities
  • Invest in clean energy
  • Fix NAFTA to make it work for America
  • Improve our Immigration System

Bring our troops home from Iraq. This one came in recent memory because that was the promise sold by the Democrats two years ago.

As I stated earlier, I agree with Sen. Obama about No Child Left Behind pushing teachers to teach to a test. I also agree with him that we should have pushed people to service after 9/11 instead of pushing to them to shop. His competitor, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also expressed that point as well.

Getting past the lofty promises and talking points from both sides, I look at the character. For me, Senator Obama does not really have that much of a character. He does not share my values. I know that is not a shock for many of you, but keep in mind, I liked BILL Clinton when he was president. Clinton may have creeped and lied under oath about said act, but he had enough integrity to go on national television and apologize.

Now keep in mind, I cannot do justice to Obama’s 65-page document in this space. The purpose today was to point out highlights that stuck out to me and to share what I thought about them. I did read the entire document and find that the plan for change has been proposed in the years prior to this election. Hope and change is nothing new, only the person delivering it.

P. Kenneth Burns is a broadcaster and journalist who blogs at Maryland Politics Today and His email is

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