Vail Valley Voices: Slow down, Mr. President
Vail, CO, Colorado
President Obama is fighting two wars against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He’s attempting to stem the tide of nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea diplomatically. He’s working feverishly to turn around the U.S. economy. He’s trying to curtail global warming. He’s encouraged Congress to reconstitute our health-care system this summer.
Why does he add a new project every week to his agenda in the face of huge deficits and a tentative Democratic coalition?
There are many answers to this question, but one thing is sure: Obama is already working on his legacy. He’s in a rush to do great things and secure his place in history even though he’s only six months into his first term.
The legacy issue concerns me greatly because ego, overconfidence and arrogance often result in misjudgments. But today, the stakes are so great that an error relating to so many contemporary issues could be catastrophic.
Let’s analyze some of the important issues facing the president.
Most agree that a misstep in Iraq would negate all of the sacrifices made to this point. Withdrawing troops too early will enable the most violent groups in the country to create havoc if the Iraqis are unable to provide their own security. Granted, American sentiment (including my own) and Iraqi sentiment are against a continuing U.S. presence. But Obama must dig deep to ensure our national interests are not compromised by hasty decisions.
I’m afraid that diplomatic efforts to end Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs are not the answer. Neither country is going to back down because the United States has not yet assembled an effective global coalition against these dangerous situations.
It’s mind-boggling why Russia and China are not more assertive toward the Iranians and the North Koreans. Why would either country want to have a nuclear threat so close by, especially when Iran and North Korea are ruled by fanatics?
I suspect the Israelis will eventually respond to Iran if the international community of nations is too slow to react.
The point is that Obama’s inclination to be a peace-maker (a legacy issue) won’t fit every situation.
The economic crisis has driven Obama to become involved in areas that the federal government has avoided throughout history. Do Americans really want federal neophytes directing the operations of gigantic multinational companies? Do Americans want Congress to decide what products are manufactured in this country and how they should be financed and marketed?
Do business executives, small-business operators and unions want the federal government to dictate compensation for their constituents?
I still believe in capitalism and a free market. Government should have regulatory and oversight responsibilities, but should not be involved in day-to-day operations of any privately or publicly-held entity.
Regarding health care, should this issue be determined in the next few weeks?
It took a century for the country to develop the problems it is now experiencing. Why rush through such and important process?
The president has been warned repeatedly that throwing new tax dollars at health care alone is a mistake. This strategy won’t rectify the situation.
Rather, cheating by doctors, patients, hospitals and HMOs must end, and trial lawyers must be reined in. Waste and bureaucracy must be identified and eliminated.
By doing so, our nation will be able to provide health care for everybody without raising anybody’s taxes.
Unfortunately, it will to take more than two or three weeks to execute a comprehensive plan. Raising taxes, on the other hand, is easy to do and is about all that Congress will be able to accomplish before the summer is over.
Mr. President, slow down. You will only be great if you don’t make any large mistakes.
Sal Bommarito is a New Yorker who has skied Vail for 20 years. He will periodically report on national issues that affect Vailites. A former investment banker, he recently published four novels.