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Video: President Obama Lays Out Stark Contrast with Republicans on Budget, Future of America

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A bit earlier today, President Obama gave an excellent speech that lays out a stark contrast with Republicans on cutting the deficit, on growing the economy, and on the very future of this country. The question is, will America be a country where – as Jim Webb said repeatedly in 2006 – “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class gets squeezed?” To quote Jim Webb again, will this be a country where the “health of a society is measured at its base, not at its apex?”

Clearly, Republicans prefer the “apex.” In stark contrast, what President Obama’s talking about here is the “base,” not just of his party but of this country. Thus, President Obama demands a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction, one that doesn’t just slash spending and call on working people to sacrifice, while asking for no revenues and for no sacrifice whatsoever from wealthy Americans and large corporations. That, frankly, is what we have a Republican Party for – to fight for the top 1%. To the contrary, the point of having a Democratic Party is to fight for the other 99%. I’m glad to see President Obama doing just that. (Note: I also greatly appreciated Obama calling out John Boehner, by name, for his 100% cuts, “my way or the highway” approach, which Obama said was “not smart” and “not right.”)

IMHO, the best part of this speech, other than the revived fighting spirit, was that Obama appears to be returning firmly to the Democratic Party’s roots – fighting for working people and the middle class, not the richest of the rich. Here’s a relevant excerpt:

We can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy, rates by the way that were meant to be temporary…We can’t afford them when we’re running these big deficits…But any reform plan will have to raise revenue to help close our deficit, that has to be part of the formula. And any reform should follow another simple principle: middle class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that. Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There’s no justification for it; it is wrong that in the United States of America a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million. Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who signs some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out, they should have to defend that unfairness. Explain why somebody who’s making $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15% on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying…a higher rate. They ought to have to answer for that… I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.  

Great stuff, I couldn’t agree more. As for the Republicans’ ridiculous, mendacious, tired/cliched old charge that anything that makes our tax code less regressive is “class warfare,” while rigging the system to make the rich richer and everyone else poorer is NOT “class warfare,” President Obama responded that this isn’t class warfare, it’s “the right thing to do” and also — “It’s math.” (also, I’m REALLY glad to see Obama calling out the Teapublicans for THEIR class warfare, robbing from the middle class and poor to give to the rich) Unfortunately, Teapublicans all seem to have flunked math (and science, and a number of other subjects as well), plus they have a 180-degrees backwards view of “the right thing to do.” Apparently, Teapublicans prefer gutting education, our crumbling infrastructure, and other crucial investment in America to raising a dollar (or a penny, for that matter) in taxes on their favorite corporations and rich people.  

  • Teddy Goodson

    This is a fighting speech, he promises to veto any legislation that puts the burden on the middle class while not asking any sacrifice from the wealthiest corporations and individuals. Maybe he needs positive reinforcement from the general public, including us, which will encourage him to live up to these promises, rather than cave in and negotiate away his promise (as in the past)  with the idea that getting anything from Republicans is better than nothing. Anything is NOT better than nothing! This is crunch time, Mr. President. Hold the line.