Monday, November 10, 2008

THE REVIEW HELPS CLOSE DOOR ON OBAMA'S DRAFT

It seems Obama's transition team has gotten a bit ahead of itself. On Friday we reported that Obama, according to a statement on the transition team's web site, "will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year."

As we noted, this plan is in sync with programs proposed by Obama's new chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, and by others close to the president-elect.

The item was reported by the Review and the conservative site Newsbusters but hardly any place else.

By Sunday, going to the page brought up this: "The page you requested is not available right now."

Yet, curiously, on another url one found the original proposal and layout, but substantively changed. National service is not longer a requirement, but only a goal:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

It appears that Obama has backed off the backdoor draft, setting some sort of record for politician mind-changing.

But is this change permanent? We have no idea but will stay on the case. In the meanwhile, here is some of the background we provided in the earlier story

Progressive Review - Obama favors a national service plan that appears to be in sync with one being promoted by a new coalition that would make national service mandatory by 2020, and with a bill requiring such mandatory national service introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel.

He announced in Colorado Springs last July, "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

On another occasion he said, "It's also important that a president speaks to military service as an obligation not just of some, but of many. You know, I traveled, obviously, a lot over the last 19 months. And if you go to small towns, throughout the Midwest or the Southwest or the South, every town has tons of young people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's not always the case in other parts of the country, in more urban centers. And I think it's important for the president to say, this is an important obligation. If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some."

J.D. Tuccille, Examiner -
Rep. Rahm Emanuel wants to force people 18 to 25 to labor for the government. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, President-Elect Barack Obama's choice for chief of staff in his incoming administration, is co-author of a book, The Plan: Big Ideas for America, that calls for, among other things, compulsory service for all Americans ages 18 to 25. The following excerpt is from pages 61-62 of the 2006 book:

|||| It's time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service. . .

Here's how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They'll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we're hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities' most pressing needs. ||||

Emanuel and co-author Bruce Reed insist "this is not a draft," but go on to write of young men and women, "the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service." They also warn, "some Republicans will squeal about individual freedom," ruling out any likelihood that they would let people opt out of universal citizen service.

As chief of staff, Emanuel will not be in a position to directly introduce public policy, but his enthusiasm for compulsory service, combined with Barack Obama's own plan to require high school students to perform 50 hours of government-approved service, suggest an unfortunate direction for the new administration.

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