President Obama spoke today to the National Governors Association and he was pretty much his usual self:
let me also say this: I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service. These times demand it. We're not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We're not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don't properly reward that bravery.
Rather than actually naming a governor who is denigrating or vilifying public employees or infringing upon their rights or supplying a specific example of such denigration or vilification, Mr. Obama makes it all seem slightly abstract. One wonders if he includes Republican governors among the public employees who shouldn't be denigrated or vilified; Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has certainly been subjected to quite a bit of abuse.
His line about teacher compensation provides a similar level of ambiguity. Is Mr. Obama's point that teachers, police officers, and firefighters now are insufficiently competent or brave because their are insufficiently compensated? Or is he merely posing that as a potential future risk? Does he think teachers are in it mainly for the money? How much, exactly, does the president think teachers, police officers, and firefighters should make, and where in the Constitution does it say it's his job to decide that, or even to opine about it?
I went to Wisconsin, for example, a few weeks ago, and I visited a small-town company called Orion that's putting hundreds of people to work manufacturing energy-efficient lights in a once-darkened plant. They benefited from federal research.
It's amazing to me that Mr. Obama is still flogging this Orion story after the post here pointing out that Orion's stock price has sagged to $4 from $19, the company is cash-flow negative, and that the company's largest institutional shareholder is General Electric. The company may be "putting hundreds of people to work," but over the past few years, it has destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars of shareholder value, and, if it continues to be cash-flow negative, it's hard to see how the company's manufacturing jobs will be sustainable over the long term.
this recognition that states need flexibility to tailor their approach to their unique needs is why part of the law says that, beginning in 2017, if you can come up with a better system for your state to provide coverage of the same quality and affordability as the Affordable Care Act, you can take that route instead. That portion of the law has not been remarked on much. It says by 2017, if you have a better way of doing it, help yourself, go ahead, take that route.
Now, some folks have said, well, that's not soon enough. So a few weeks ago, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, and Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, they proposed legislation that would accelerate that provision. So it would allow states to apply for such a waiver by 2014 instead of 2017.
I think that's a reasonable proposal. I support it.
This is classic Washington. Mr. Obama is patting himself and the senators on the back for allowing states to do something in 2014 rather than in 2017. I hate to spoil the bipartisan self-congratulation, but here's a radical idea: if allowing states to have their own health reform is such a great idea in 2017 and an even better idea in 2014, why not try it now, rather than three years from now. Imagine this in the context of your home life: "Honey, I just heard about a great new restaurant. Here's an idea, let's try it in 2014." Or in the context of a privately run business: "Hey boss, I have an idea for doubling sales, can we try it in 2014?" This is the federal government's idea of fast — three years out.