There has been a backlash by the kinda, not-really lefitsh punditariat about how little Obama can accomplish. Critics of the critics call it the Green Lantern theory of presidential power: the idea that, if Obama only wished harder, he could pass whatever he wanted (as does the superhero the Green Lantern). Without getting into that whole debate (I think the pundits are missing the point), this tragedy is something Obama could have done something about (boldface mine):
But federal funding for senior nutrition has been reduced by budget cuts known as sequestration, meaning less food for old people here and elsewhere. The White House has said the cuts would mean 4 million fewer meals for seniors this year, while the Meals On Wheels Association of America put the loss at 19 million meals. In general, the federal government subsidizes only a portion of the cost of every meal, so whether individual seniors will stop receiving food really depends on the circumstances of whatever local agency serves them.
Michele Daley, director of nutrition services at the Local Office on Aging, which serves Roanoke, Alleghany, Botetourt and Craig counties in Virginia, said the agency expects to receive $95,000 less in federal funds this year (it has an operating budget of $1 million). They’re gradually reducing the number of people receiving daily meals from 650 to 600 as a result of the budget cuts. Already, the office has planned to stop handing out most emergency meals — bags of shelf-stable items like canned beans distributed in advance of snowstorms and holidays. And they’ve instituted a waiting list.
“We’ve never had a waiting list,” Daley said. “This is the first time ever and it’s a direct result of sequestration.”
After he learned about the cuts on the news, McCormick thought long and hard about whether he really needed the meals. He’s got no car, and can’t walk long distances, but sometimes he can get a ride to the grocery store and the food pantry, and he’s got a small stockpile of canned goods sitting on a wooden desk in his living room…
Field is struck by the poverty of some of the clients he sees — the shirtless old man in swimming trunks on the couch, the World War II-era vet, a guy with no teeth who’d lived 56 years in a 110-year-old house, a man sitting on his porch in a wheelchair wearing sunglasses with only one lens.
“I don’t know what they do,” Field said. They’re not healthy enough to jaunt around town.
Note that I wrote “could have.” Obama had leverage when Congress wanted to get the air traffic controllers back to work. And he pissed it away for nothing. Not one thing.
I realize no one gives a shit about scientists. But elderly shut-ins? Or how about people who need cancer medication? He should have–and could have–vetoed the air traffic controller legislation and demanded that elderly shut-ins and cancer patients get the help they need or else he would veto it again. If you are a professional politician and you can’t win the public opinion battle of ‘distressed’ air travellers versus ill and hungry people, then you should be sued for political malpractice.
He could have done this. He should have done this. And no magic ring was necessary.
Just a veto.