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Debbie does Discourse
In May 9 Issue
Russell County News
By Debbie Bell, Columnist

President Obama recently passed his first 100 days in office, and so far, so good. Not one to rest on his laurels, President Obama has hit the ground running. He realizes he will be judged not only by the way in which he handles the cornucopia of problems left to him by the previous administration, but also as our nation's first, black President.

Since Mr. Obama took office, he has signed 19 Executive Order, and 14 Bills into law, visited 12 states, traveled to nine countries, met the leaders of 23 countries, held three prime time conferences, about a dozen other news conferences, gave many one-on-one interviews, and gave one, nationally-televised address.

As do all politicians, Mr. Obama made many promises during his run for the Presidency. Here are some that Obama has already enacted into law:

1.Tax cuts for the middle class. Payroll deductions for most Americans amounting to about $400 a years are in place for two years.

2.Help for home owners so they can stay in their homes-$75 billion to help some homeowners refinance or avoid foreclosure.

3.Helping state and local governments set up road and bridge projects. The money was part of the stimulus package.

4.Improving education, reforming healthcare, investing in alternative energy. This is an ongoing process, but the President has the ball rolling in all these areas.

5.Has lifte restrictions on stem cell research.

On the international front, President Obama has:

1.Set a date for withdrawal from Iraq-August 2010.

2.Made plans to close Guantanamo Bay.

3.Banned torture procedures and released documents proving the Bush administration used torture during their regime.

4.Reached out to Muslims. The American people should realize from past injustices that we cannot persecute a whole culture because of the misdeeds of a few.

5.Reached out to adversaries. President's Bush's policy on adversaries was it was “Our way or no way,” and to call them the “axis of evil.” These countries were pushed into isolation. Mr. Obama's philosophy is that “We are all citizens of the world.” We have to not only talk, but to listen, to reach out and give it time. If it fails, these countries have pushed themselves into isolation.

6.Reopened travel to Cuba. We allow travel to other more powerful, larger countries that we disagree with. It smacks to me of a big bully in school who picks on someone much smaller than them. There are many Cuban Americans in this country who long to visit family and loved ones in their homeland.

On January 20th, when our new President took his oath of office, every economic indicator was bad, and pointed south. Warren Buffett called it an “economic Pearl Harbor.” Since Obama took office there has been signs (albeit small) that the economy is getting worse at a much slower pace and leading economists predict the end of the recession in the next year or two. Some of the signs of an improving economy are:

1.The Nasdaq is at a six-month high.

2.People are buying houses at low interest rates and house prices have fallen.

3.Investors and monies are moving back into the stock market.

4.Tech stocks are up 20 percent.

5.People are shopping and showing a newfound confidence in the Obama administration.

6.The Dow soars, markets have regained 2009 losses.

7.New pending home sales are up 3.2 percent and construction, in general, is up three percent. Warren Buffett now likens it to having a friend up to his neck in quicksand and sinking. We've thrown this friend a rope and gotten him out, but not without a few broken bones. I like it to my own battle with weight gain. It took a long time to get 330 pounds and it was fun, living primarily on a diet of ice cream, cake, and candy. We have lived the economic attitude of having what we want, when we want far, far, many years and now it is time to pay the piper.

I must cut the sweets out of my diet and we all must cut the personal debt and corporate greed out for our economy to get better. It won't be near as much fun and will be painfully slow, but Rome wasn't built in a day..

Another coup for the Obama administration was the defection of GOP Senator Arlen Spector to the Democratic party. Senator Spector could find no place in his own “small tent,” our way, or no way, ever increasingly right wing, ultra conservative, republican party. Say what you will about the democratic party-they've always been seen as the “big tent,” all inclusive party, with many liberal, moderate and conservative congress people. I think Mr. Spector is just the first of many moderate republicans in Congress who will find it more to their liking on the other side of the aisle.

8.#The Bush administration had also bee busy for the last 100 days, since they left office. Mr. Bush has raised $100 million in donations for the “Bush Library.” That's nice. This for an administration that more than doubled our national debt, gave $700 billion to their buddies on Wall Street, started two wars, and left our economy in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Maybe Mr. Bush should return this money to the government to help clean up some of the mess his administration made. Dick Cheney is making his rounds, going on shows, whining about why this new administration is all wrong, and how President Obama's economic policies will have devastating effects in the long run. I think its' time Mr. Cheney shut up and do something he does best-go hunting quail hunting. Condolezza Rice had a run-in with a fourth grader this week. Asked why Bush authorized torture, Ms. Rice responded that torture was never used and that Pres. Bush would never authorize anything illegal. Huh? Let's ask John McCain about that one. Look up waterboarding. It is defined as torture, is illegal and a violations of the Geneva Convention. The United States is supposed to set an example to the rest of the world, not to act like Third World gang of hoodlums like the Taliban or Al Queda.

This article was printed in the St. Petersburg Times newspaper in response to the question, “How would you fix the economy?” This fix is so simple that it flies right over the heads of our government officials.

“Patriotic Retirement”

There are about 40 million people over the age of 50 in the workforce. Pay them $1 million a piece in severance, with the following stipulations:

1.They retire immediately. Forty million job openings-unemployment fixed.

2.They buy new, American cars. Forty million cars ordered-auto industry fixed.

3.They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage. Housing crisis fixed.

I don't know about you, but this sound like a good plan to me, but I won't be waiting by the mailbox for my one million.

Lastly, I learned a valuable lesson this week. I was lamenting to a friend about how poor I was. I've only been to yard sales once this summer and I couldn't tell you the last time I went out to eat. My friend chastised me for saying I was poor and said that most people in this county were not truly “poor.” We then went on to talk about the living conditions of people in Africa or other Third World countries. Begrudgingly I had to admit that he was right. It may have limbs and moss on it, but I have a roof over my head. They may not be a name brand, but I have clothes on my back. I may not have what I want to eat, but I am not going hungry. My car may 150,000 miles on it, but it still gets me where I need to go.

6.*Myself and my family are healthy and I have a beautiful grandson that I love. If I should ever be in need, I have a wonderful support system of great friends. I have a multitude of things to be thankful for. I am truly blessed. I will no longer say that I am poor-just financially-strapped.

Till next time-forward ho!

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