For over four years many on the left have wondered, sometimes aloud, when President Obama would abandon diplomacy and desire for bipartisanship and tell the American people what they need to hear about why they are not sharing in the nation’s economic recovery that is enriching the wealthy and their corporations. Whether it was to appease Republicans to encourage them to work with Democrats for the good of all the people, or to avoid appearing combative, the President has been remiss to speak bluntly about why Washington is ineffective when he, and anyone with a pulse, knew Republican obstruction was borne of their opposition to him as President as much as their 30-year crusade to transfer the nation’s wealth to their corporate paymasters. However, in an interview with the New York Times, the President gave an accurate assessment of the Republican Party, the state of the economy, and reiterated his four-year economic agenda that Republicans have opposed every step of the way.
The President did not reveal any new initiatives to boost the economy he has not already shared during two campaigns for the presidency, but he finally called for a cessation of the Republican’s austerity frenzy that is retarding economic growth, killing millions of jobs, and sending more Americans into poverty. In fact, the President accurately cited the devastating effects of austerity he called “a damaging framework in Washington.” He said, “I want to make sure that all of us in Washington are investing as much time, as much energy, as much debate on how we grow the economy and grow the middle class as we’ve spent over the last two to three years arguing about how we reduce the deficits.” Instead of slashing spending on social safety nets and domestic programs, the President called for spending on education, research and development, clean energy, and infrastructure that Republicans claim depresses economic recovery because it does not shift all the wealth to their campaign donors fast enough.
Widening income inequality in favor of the rich, the Republicans primary goal, is one of the President’s main economic concerns and he noted it is “fraying the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.” He said that the concept, once a reality, of upward mobility was “part and parcel of who we are as Americans,” but that it has been eroding “over the last 20, 30 years, well before the financial crisis.” It was the first time in recent memory anyone in Washington openly acknowledged that since the Reagan administration, Republicans worked tirelessly to transfer the nation’s wealth directly to the rich. In a direct swipe at Republican intransigence and austerity to benefit the wealthy, the President said “If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should, and income inequality will continue to rise; that’s not a future that we should accept” and cited the effect income inequality has on racial tensions plaguing America.
The President explained how the Republican economic agenda, particularly opposition to job creation, promoting austerity to create poverty, and refusal to invest in America to enrich the wealthy contributes to racial strains that are inexorably linked to people’s fear that financial stability is unattainable. He said that as long as “people feel they’ve got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot,” there will be racial animus that extends to immigrants, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans. The solution, the President said, is that “if the economy is growing, everybody feels invested. Everybody feels as if we’re rolling in the same direction,” but a nation working toward the same goals is anathema to Republicans who thrive on divisiveness and creating suspicion of “the other” whether it is African Americans, Hispanics, or the President of the United States. In fact, maybe for the first time in his Presidency, Obama noted that Republican opposition to sound economic policies that are proven to grow the economy, create jobs, and contribute to national unity is based on the fact he was elected President.
In highlighting the constant Republican criticism that he usurps his authority in calling for and supporting legislation to invest in America, spur job creation, grow the economy, and reduce crippling income inequality, Mr. Obama said “there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.” The President may not realize the importance of that one statement, but it encapsulates the entirety of Republican opposition to everything he has proposed or supported throughout his tenure regardless it is jobs bills, gun safety, gay rights, women’s rights, or tax hikes on the richest Americans. Republican denial that he is the legally elected President is also a major contributing factor to the racial animus raging in conservative ranks that is impeding immigration reform as well as driving Republican success at assaulting minority voting rights in GOP-controlled states.
If the American people take anything away from the President’s remarks in the NYT interview, and recent speeches about the economy, it is that it appears he has had it with Republicans and the devastation they have caused this nation over the past two-and-a-half years. It is true Republicans have been on a thirty year crusade to transfer wealth to their wealthy campaign donors and install a theocracy to control American society, but they have taken extraordinarily extreme measures since they took control of the House and several states in the 2010 midterm elections. Their obvious denial that he won the presidency twice is evident in their opposition to policies and agendas the President, the majority of Americans, and even Republicans support, and their continued push, and threats to continue, austerity in spite of the devastation to the economy and American people is evidence they have no regard for the health of the nation. Now, at long last, President Obama is taking up the cause of the people like never before by openly calling out Republicans as the source of America’s economic and social woes.
Republicans can never say the President did not make every attempt to compromise with them, or that he failed to slash the debt and deficit, or that he did not save the economy after they ravaged it with tax cuts for the rich, two unnecessary wars, and rampant deregulation during the Bush era. However, it appears they have pushed the President too far and punished the people too severely, because he is finally speaking honestly against Republicans’ damage to Americans, the economy, and the social fabric and calling for an end to austerity and income inequality driving American racism.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.