Obama sounded reinvigorated in his speech on Tuesday. He clearly specified the issues facing the country and what needs to be done. Now he needs to tell us how to accomplish these goals.
Obama outlined the problems facing most people in the country. He said what made our country great, “If you gave it your all, you’d take enough home to raise your family, send your kids to school, have your health care covered, and put a little away for retirement,” and this is what made our country great.
However, “Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefitted from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments than ever before. But everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t – and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.”
Obama then explains why Republican policies won’t work, and what needs to be done to fix the economy.
Trickle-down economics, the Republican policy of “cut more regulation” and “cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy,” doesn’t work and has never worked, Obama said. It didn’t work the decade before the Great Depression. It did not lead to the “incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.”
Obama says that the “most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history” in 2001 and 2003 had the “slowest job growth in half a century.”
The data backs Obama. During President Bill Clinton’s time in office, almost 22.7 million jobs were created, while the under President George W. Bush about 1.08 millions jobs were created. (Note that the figure often quoted for jobs created during the Bush presidency is 3 million. Updated statistics revised that figure downward.)
Obama then says that years of weak regulation and lax oversight led to: “Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity, and denied care to the patients who were sick. Mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford. A financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.”
He then cites statistics that “the average income of the top one percent has gone up by more than 250 percent, to $1.2 million per year,” and that the “typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her workers now earns 110 times more.” This inequality “distorts our democracy” and gives an “outsized voice” to lobbyists who can afford unlimited campaign contributions.
Obama then talks about how the inequality makes it harder to advance to the middle class, how we should be rebuilding our infrastructure, hiring teachers instead laying off teachers to improve education, and fix our tax code so that millionaires do not have a lower tax rate than somebody who makes $50,000.
He then commends how the Big Three Auto companies agreed to give bonuses not just to executives, but to all employees, and how the owner one company said that during tough times when workers give up benefits and pay, so should the owners.
Obama gave a passionate speech that clearly and eloquently stated the problems facing our country, especially the problems cause by inequality. Implicit in the speech is that we need to resolve the problems caused by inequality. He needs to explain how he would solve these problems.
As Obama said: “This isn’t about class warfare. This is about the nation’s welfare. It’s about making choices that benefit not just the people who’ve done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get to the middle class, and the economy as a whole.”
I passionately agree.