The President rose to the occasion tonight. His plan had it all. Middle class tax cuts, payroll tax cuts for small businesses, infrastructure spending, jobs for servicemen returning from overseas, new jobs for teachers, closing tax loopholes, and gradually reforming Medicare are all part of the plan.
The President began his speech by talking about the plight of the American people. He made it clear that this country has a jobs crisis. And he offered a plan called The American Jobs Act. The President called for immediate action from Congress on this plan. He said, “you should pass this bill right away,” 16 times this evening.
The President put Republicans in a mighty difficult position with this speech. He made an effort to point out initiatives that Republicans had previously supported including tax cuts for small businesses, infrastructure, jobs for returning soldiers, Medicare reform, and a call for additional spending cuts to pay for it. He also promised to take his proposal to the American people if Congress does not pass it.
He made it clear that we should not be behind in rebuilding our schools and hiring teachers and that we should make sure that American products are being sold around the world. The President called for closing tax loopholes and an end to tax subsidies for corporations and the wealthy. He also offered the Republicans a chance to end some regulations that hinder business, but he flatly refused to end regulations the protect the health and safety of workers. The President also took a stand for labor unions and collective bargaining.
He invoked Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, reminding Americans that it was Lincoln who mobilized government to build the railroad and offer grants for colleges, and that it was Kennedy who called Americans to action to get things done as a people. President Obama challenged the Republicans to help America get ahead of the rest of the world by bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and by investing to make our infrastructure the best in the world.
The President showed anger and urgency in his speech and although I wanted him to go after Republicans a lot more, I’m very pleased with this speech. He was aggressive, motivating, inspiring, and eloquent. He made the case for government engaging to deal with the jobs crisis.
Progressives will say that the President didn’t go far enough and there are definitely some issues to be concerned about. I’m not a fan of cutting Medicare and Medicaid but I realize that it needs to be reformed so that future generations can enjoy the benefits. How it will be reformed remains to be seen. I’m concerned about taking more revenue from Social Security, which is paid for by payroll taxes. Although solving the jobs problem would add more taxpayers to the payroll tax system thereby offsetting the cuts. I’m also concerned about making more cuts from the budget. We were already worried about the kinds of cuts the super committee will make and now they have to make more. But the way I see it, the President had to make the plan palatable to the GOP as well as to Democrats. In the current political environment, we cannot expect Republicans to vote for a hard line progressive plan. We can’t wait for 14 months to throw out Republicans so that Democrats have a majority again. The American people want jobs now. They are hurting right now and it will only be worse if we do nothing.
Obviously, we need to know more details, but as of right now, the next move falls to the Republicans. Their actions will determine whether this plan goes into effect or not. If Republicans refuse to pass this obvious bipartisan proposal, they will have doomed themselves politically. Meanwhile, the President and the Democrats will once again look like the adults in the room. The President spoke for the American people tonight. He is on their side. The question is, will the Republicans change their tune, or will they obstruct against the wishes of the voters who gave them their jobs?