Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop




Is Barack Obama All Talk?

Posted 15 June, 2008 at 3:14pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Current Events)

Every few days, when I need a break from my audio books, I'll listen to the news and talk radio while driving. Over the years, I've just gotten used to listening to KGO Newstalk 810. With the Democratic primaries finally over (now that Clinton has endorsed Obama), there have been a few shows letting listeners chime in and express their thoughts on Obama as a candidate. What irks me is that there are quite a few listeners that still say Barack Obama may give a good speech, but in the end he doesn't really have any plans (for health care, withdrawal from Iraq, the economy, whatever issue that listener cares about). I think the last time this happened, a Clinton supporter called in on Gil Gross's program and stated that she was afraid the American people were adopting a "wait and see" attitude concerning Obama. She felt that people were just voting for Obama because the alternatives reminded them too much of our current administration and that this was very dangerous since Obama is all talk and doesn't have a plan for health care or Iraq. The host of the show (don't know if it was Gil since I tuned in late, but it sounded like Gil) agreed with her! I have a BIG problem with this.

I don't know who started it (was it Hillary Clinton's campaign or McCain's or someone else) but there's this "rumor" going around that Barack Obama gives great speeches, but in the end he doesn't have a firm plan to make any real changes. People I talk to seem confused about his stance on taxes, how his plan for health care differs from Clinton's plan, and seem to believe he wants to pull all the troops out of Iraq on Day One. Unfortunately, people believe what they want to believe and don't bother investigating for themselves.

As a society, we get the majority of our news in sound bites - five to 20 second snippets providing an overview of what someone thinks or what happened. If we're lucky, there's a 30 min. (including commercials) program devoted to a topic where we can learn more OR even a documentary. That's all great, but people forget how much information can be found in the WRITTEN word. Almost all articles on CNN.com or your local newspaper's website will have more information than any spot on a televised or radio newscast. Even then, those articles should be examined with a pessimistic attitude - the journalist often is out of his depth and does not fully understand the details and intricacies of what they are reporting (very few things in life are uncomplicated and the probability that an event assigned to a reporter will match precisely with their area of expertise - sometimes it happens and it's great to read those reports because journalists have a way with words that most experts do not) OR due to space constraints, there really isn't as much info as there should be.

In some areas, we're lucky. Sometimes it's hard to find out the truth or what the actual facts are, but, in the case of Barack Obama's policy plans, they are publicly available. There's no reason to read them second or third hand from a news article or a television commercial. It's all right there on his campaign website. There can be no debate about it - this is what he says. (There can be debate about whether or not the plans are worthwhile, will affect the right people, etc., but the fact that he has plans is not up for debate.) Somehow a large part of the population is unaware of his plans and thinks he just talks about them and is full of hot air - just like all the other politicians.

In fact, Barack Obama is the only candidate to make available detailed plans for ever major issue his campaign is based on. I'm not talking about the one page fact sheets that Hillary Clinton or John McCain calls their "detailed" plans. I'm talking about fifteen page overviews covering each aspect of his plan complete with references so you can check the figures and the background of the assumptions yourself. (Obama also has the two page high level sheet, but it's providing the real details that sets him apart.) How is it possible that the only candidate to actually formulate detailed plans and publish them publicly for everyone to read be the only one accused on a consistent basis of being all talk and no plan?

I'm using the rest of this post to provide download links so people can download and read for themselves his actual plans. If someone can find the same level of detail on McCain's plans, please leave a comment with where to download them.

Health Care
Health Care Plan
Health Care FAQ

Economic Plan
Small Business Economic Plan
Plan to protect homeownership and crack down on mortgage fraud

Iraq Plan

Environment and Energy
Environment Plan
Energy Plan

Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade Education Plan
College Affordability Plan

There's a bunch more available at BarackObama.com.

2 comments to Is Barack Obama All Talk?

Evelyn, September 11th, 2008 at 6:17 pm:

  • So I quickly read thru Senator Obama's health care plan, his economic plan and the College Affordability Plan. It all sounds so compassionate for those needing help. But at the back of my mind is a question of who's going to pay for all of these plans? Why is the government expected to be more efficient than faith-based services provided by private charities, churches, and organizations like these. In the suburbs of Dallas, TX is one of the most successful social action group called Christian Community Action Services that was started by several couples who met regularly for Bible Study and decided to put their faith into action. CCA now support indigent families get back on their feet, provide medical treatment for the low-income, provide job training, educational services…all of this provided from the private sector. When was the last time the government was more efficient in providing services than equivalent services in the private sector?

Michael Chu, September 13th, 2008 at 2:28 pm:

  • You know, I have to agree with you on the efficiency thing. I think the issue here isn't efficiency but availability. Unfortunately, it's not true that all of the people in all of the regions of the U.S. have access to health care or groups that will assist them. Although most (if not all the other) first world nations do have their national governments providing greater assistance that the U.S. does in terms of health care and welfare, I don't necessarily think that's the right thing for the government to do. It is however the civilized thing to do.

    There will be an impact to the quality of life standards. We will need to pay more taxes (at least those of us who earn above a certain income level - which I think I qualify since I live in Silicon Valley and can actually meet my mortgage that puts me in the upper class when compared to the rest of the country, even though the rest of the country lives in much better conditions than I do…) which will lead to a decline in quality of life since I'll have less disposable income - but not THAT much less. The upside is that quality of life will increase for a lot of other people who can't even afford to see the doctor right now. I've never had to decide to see the doctor or eat. When I see the doctor, it's $120 per visit - it's a decision that means, do I see the doctor or put the money away in savings or buy a (whole or part of a) gadget. So, for those people it's a huge increase in quality of life. Personally, I feel like it's a sacrifice, I'd be willing to make.

    Will it be as efficient as a faith or passion-driven non-profit organization or a market-driven business in meeting peoples needs for a given funding level? Almost definitely not. But will those programs and companies provide universal coverage - definitely not. It's a complicated question with many right answers (all of which can go terribly wrong or amazingly right just based on a few adjustments here or there). It might be a waste of money (or not) but I think we should try.