Barack Obama, President Obama — July 26, 2011 at 6:46 am

Pulpit: bullied


Last night, President Obama spoke to the country about the looming crisis, imposed on the country by Republicans who have what appears to be a single interest in mind: protecting the interests of every single millionaire and billionaire in the USA from having to give up even one penny of their money. It should never have come to this but this is the state of our country at the moment with Republicans the skabillionaires who control Republican in charge.

[Our] approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much. It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt. And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make. And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in. In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit. The first time a deal passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer.”

Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan.

[W]e were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.

That last line spoke to me the loudest because it defines the stances on those who have dug in the most solidly on both sides of the issue. It goes without saying that the tea party politicians are too shallow, too inexperienced and too ideological to grasp the full impact of their position. I am never surprised when they won’t negotiate because, as the president said, they see room for negotiation — to them, it is admission of defeat.

I do, however, expect reasonable Republicans, and I have to believe there are still some left in Congress, to speak up and start educating these newbie freshman on what the word “leadership” means.

And, finally, I expect more from Democrats. Many of the loudest of them, particularly those shouting from outside the beltway, see any compromise as nothing more than a capitulation, a “cave in” to those with whom they disagree. “He’s going to cut Social Security!”, they cry before a single detail has emerged about what is actually being proposed. “He’s throwing poor people/old people under the bus!” we hear before anything is known about exactly what part of the fat and waste is being trimmed. Any movement toward the right is viewed as an utter failure.

So, last night, the president got up and spoke to everyone. He used the bully pulpit to do what he should be doing: LEADING.

The only question that remains, I suppose, is whether or not anyone was listening.

I actually, I DO think people were listening. Another of the things the president said was this:

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

Last night, for several hours after the president’s press conference, Congressional web servers were down due to the insane amount of traffic. Voice mailboxes of countless lawmakers, including Speaker Boehner’s, were full. The president asked Americans to let their members of Congress know that the time is now to move ahead as one and they did that. This is the message that I sent to my Congressman, Tim “The Original Tea Partier” Walberg:

As a constituent from Dexter, MI, I am sick of politicians fighting to protect millionaires and billionaires from having to share in the pain of fixing our budget problem – politicians like YOU.  It’s time for you to vote to raise the debt ceiling and go along with a balanced approach that cuts spending AND raises revenues by eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

The time for childish political games is over. Do the job you were sent to Washington to do and protect our economy by voting to raise the debt ceiling NOW.

I highly encourage you to do the same. Reach out to your member of Congress and let them know how you feel. It’s time to move forward.