Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama on Labor Day

Today Barack Obama made good use of his labor day appearance in Milwaukee to rally the Democrats, who have been hungry for a sign of fighting spirit from the President. The infrastructure spending he announced is a step in the direction of creating jobs, although it is not the sort of massive new stimulus some had hoped for. The most powerful part of the speech came in its critique of Republican obstructionism, and the Bush legacy of aggressive upward redistribution of wealth combined with weakening of social services. Here's the Milwaukee speech's conclusion:

But there are some folks in Washington who see things differently. When it comes to just about everything we've done to strengthen the middle class and rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress said no. Even where we usually agree, they say no. They think it's better to score political points before an election than actually solve problems. So they said no to help for small businesses. No to middle-class tax cuts. No to unemployment insurance. No to clean energy jobs. No to making college affordable. No to reforming Wall Street. Even as we speak, these guys are saying no to cutting more taxes for small business owners. I mean, come on! Remember when our campaign slogan was "Yes We Can?" These guys are running on "No, We Can't," and proud of it. Really inspiring, huh?

To steal a line from our old friend, Ted Kennedy: what is it about working men and women that they find so offensive?

When we passed a bill earlier this summer to help states save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters that were about to be laid off, they said "no" to that, too. In fact, the Republican who's already planning to take over as Speaker of the House dismissed them as "government jobs" that weren't worth saving. Not worth saving? These are the people who teach our kids. Who keep our streets safe. Who put their lives on the line for our own. I don't know about you, but I think those jobs are worth saving.

We made sure that bill wouldn't add to the deficit, either. We paid for it by finally closing a ridiculous tax loophole that actually rewarded corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas. It let them write off the taxes they pay foreign governments - even when they don't pay taxes here. How do you like that - middle class families footing tax breaks for corporations that create jobs somewhere else! Even a lot of America's biggest corporations agreed the loophole should be closed, that it wasn't fair - but the man with the plan to be Speaker is already aiming to open it up again.

Bottom line is, these guys refuse to give up on the economic philosophy they peddled for most of the last decade. You know that philosophy: you cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; you cut rules for special interests; you cut working folks like you loose to fend for yourselves. They called it the ownership society. What it really boiled down to was: if you couldn't find a job, or afford college, or got dropped by your insurance company - you're on your own.

Well, that philosophy didn't work out so well for working folks. It didn't work out so well for our country. All it did was rack up record deficits and result in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

I'm not bringing this up to re-litigate the past; I'm bringing it up because I don't want to re-live the past. It would be one thing if Republicans in Washington had new ideas or policies to offer; if they said, you know, we've learned from our mistakes. We'll do things differently this time. But that's not what they're doing. When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would do if they took over Congress, he actually said they'd follow "the exact same agenda" as they did before I took office. The exact same agenda.

So basically, they're betting that between now and November, you'll come down with a case of amnesia. They think you'll forget what their agenda did to this country. They think you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies helped devastate our middle class and drive our economy into a ditch. And now they're asking you for the keys back.

Do you want to give them the keys back? Me neither. And do you know why? Because they don't know how to drive! At a time when we're just getting out of the ditch, they'd pop it in reverse, let the special interests ride shotgun, and hit the gas, careening right back into that ditch.

Well, I refuse to go backwards, Milwaukee. And that's the choice America faces this fall. Do we go back to the policies of the past? Or do we move forward? I say we move forward. America always moves forward. And we are going to keep moving forward today.

Let me just close by saying this. I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried, and there's still a lot of hurt out here. I hear about it when I spend time in towns like this; I read about it in your letters at night. And when times are tough, it can be easy to give in to cynicism and fear; doubt and division - to set our sights lower and settle for something less.

But that is not who we are. That is not the country I know. We do not give up. We do not quit. We are a people that faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats; and lit the way for the rest of the world. Whenever times have seemed at their worst, Americans have been at their best. Because it is in those times when we roll up our sleeves and remember that we will rise or fall together - as one nation, and one people. That's the spirit that started the labor movement. The idea that alone, we are weak. Divided, we fall. But united, we are strong. That's why we call them unions. That's why we call this the United States of America.

Milwaukee, that's the case I am going to make across the country this fall - yours. And I am asking for your help. If you are willing to join me, and Tom Barrett, and Gwen Moore, and Russ Feingold, we can strengthen our middle class and make our economy work for working Americans again. We can restore the American Dream and deliver it safely to our children. That's how we built the last American century. That's how we'll build the next. We don't believe in the words "No, we can't." We are Americans, and in times of great challenge, we push forward with an unyielding faith that we can. Yes, we can. Thank you, God Bless You and the work you do, and God Bless the United States of America.

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