Friday, September 9, 2011

President Obama: Pass This Bill

As many good Americans do before the first game of an NFL season, I too made time to watch President Barack Obama give his speech to the joint session of Congress and the American people, in which he laid out his plan to grow jobs and the economy. Okay, so a Presidential address before a joint session of Congress before a football game is not the norm, but it did get a lot of hype in the last week. The game, by the way, was a very good game between the Packers and the Saints and I hope is a foreshadowing of a competitive and entertaining season in the NFL. If you were unable to watch the speech, you can view the video here, or read the transcript here.

Just a few observations as I watched the President outline The American Jobs Act. There is a lot in the President’s proposals that are fundamentally Republican ideas, including tax cuts for businesses and payroll tax holidays for employees. The President’s plan also includes very sizable tax credits to businesses who hire veterans or the long term unemployed. These seems to me to be very sensible, non-controversial measures, particularly to the GOP. And yet, most of them sat there, stone faced throughout the speech, even for their own ideas and policies, being endorsed by a Democratic President.

President Obama laid out plans to get 2 million construction workers back to work improving roads and bridges, railways and airports. In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a score of a “D” for the state of decay of our roads and bridges. Our infrastructure is literally crumbling as we speak. We have a duty to ourselves and future generations of Americans to improve our infrastructure now. Why should China have a better transit system than the United States of America?

Construction workers would also go back to work renovating and modernizing our public schools. How can our children begin to receive the best education to prepare them in a world economy against the best and brightest across the globe in dilapidated buildings with outdated facilities and equipment? Another thing his plan will do is prevent the layoffs of or rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers. Our kids deserve the best and we must invest in their education if we are to remain a dominant player in an ever smaller world. And yet, Republicans in that hall sat on their hands, blank stares on their faces, as if they wanted our kids to grow up uneducated and uncompetitive.

The greatest thing that should make Republicans happy is that the whole plan is paid for and will not add a penny to the deficit. The President will seek addition cuts to the budget by the Super Committee formed by the deficit reduction bill signed into law in July. Yet Republicans sat coldly.

I’m sorry, but if I were an independent trying to decide on who to vote for in the next election, I’d have to say, these Republicans in Congress would be completely turning me off right now. It is clear they have no interest at all for improving the economy or creating a single job if it would seemingly be to the benefit of this President. He might just get credit for it. That just might get him re-elected. And as has been expressly stated by Mitch McConnell and others in the Republican leadership, their number one goal is to make President Obama a one term President. And it is clear that if that means keeping the economy in the tank by whatever obstruction in Congress necessary, they are not only willing, but have been very successful now for three years at doing just that. It’s time that Republicans quit being subservient to their wealthy benefactors and campaign donors and do what is right for ALL the American people. If tax cuts for the rich worked, there would be no shortage of jobs right now. Those horrendous unpaid for Bush tax cuts for the rich that ballooned our deficit have done only that, ballooned our deficit, and in the mean time destroyed American jobs, shipping them overseas, while corporations and CEOs saw the biggest profits and pay increases in history! I am proud to say that Obama’s plan revives closing loopholes in the tax code for these corporations and the wealthiest Americans. I have no problem with the rich or the fact that they have worked hard all their lives (well those who didn’t inherit everything they have anyway) to build up what they have earned. But in the last 30 years, they have seen unprecedented wealth accumulation while the middle class and poor have seen a decline in their standard of living. Wages have stagnated or declined for this group. This is now a time when the largest corporations are not creating jobs, although they are sitting on literally trillions of dollars in cash. It is time for these corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share and to be part of the economic recovery with the rest of the American people.

President Obama will deliver a bill early next week to Congress and has urged our elected representatives to “...pass this bill right away.” I urge all to contact your Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen and urge them pass this bill now. Tell them to put aside their partisan politics and put our fellow citizens back to work. Even the President admits this bill may not solve all our problems, but it is a large step in the right direction. As people go back to work, they will again be able to pay their mortgages and purchase the goods and services that will directly stimulate and spur further economic growth. Tell Republicans that the well-being of the American people is more important than the next election. And if Republicans will not support this jobs bill, and if they will continue to obstruct the growth of American jobs, the middle class, and the economy for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans or for their political agenda including unseating President Obama, then we will collectively work to unseat these same self-serving Republicans who do not care about their fellow Americans, but their own bottom line and campaign donations from the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations. Call them, write them, email them. Make your voices heard loud and clear. We want jobs and a decent standard of living and a revival of the American dream. This is not beyond our reach, but the government does have a role and a function, and at this time, this bill must be signed into law to get America working and the economy moving forward.

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