Many liberals and progressives have been frustrated by President Obama’s desire to come across as moderate and to cooperate with the Republican Party opposition, despite their concerted campaign to oppose him in every possible way in the past two and a half years.
Obama’s willingness to compromise on the budget deal in December and again this month has made many wonder if Obama had the “cajones” to come out swinging against the GOP agenda to take us back to the 1920s, or even the Gilded Age of the late 19th century!
Obama’s speech this Wednesday resolved that issue, as the President came out in an assertive manner against the Paul Ryan plan to gut Medicare, and promote a ruthless cutting of the social safety and economic regulatory network that the Democrats set up under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society!
Obama declared that he will not allow the destruction of Medicare, in favor of a voucher system which would put senior citizens and disabled people back into poverty, as was the case before Johnson pushed through a way to promote dignity in old age by providing what every other industrial nation has, not only for older and disabled people, but all citizens in their nations!
Obama declared that he would not abandon the needs and security not only of senior citizens and the disabled, but also the young, the poor, and the average working man and woman, who is being victimized by a tax policy that has created more stratification of incomes than ever in American history, and greater than any other democratic nation in the world!
While there is a need for reforms within Medicare and Medicaid and other government programs, Obama said he would use a scalpel rather than a machete to deal with necessary changes.
He defended the rights of working people and the middle class, who have borne the burden of taxes, while the elite upper classes have been gaining tremendous tax breaks for the past decade, at the same time that the Bush Administration put us into tremendous national debt growth due to two unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a Prescription Drug Plan not paid for by taxpayers!
Obama emphasized the importance of investments in education, transportation infrastructure and energy research, and cuts in wasteful defense spending, of which there is much evidence, and the need to stop thinking of all defense expenditures as sacrosanct.
Obama also said what is going on is part of the perennial battle over the role and size of government, going back to the Founding Fathers (meaning the struggle between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson). We must understand, he declared, that this is a country which has a social compact to care about others, not just oneself, and that the concept of ME must be transformed to WE–that when some are victimized, the rest of us should be seen as lessened in our commitment to human dignity! The “American Dream” must be kept alive for future generations!
The Republican reaction was to say that Obama was overly “partisan”, as if they have not been such since Day One of the Obama Presidency!
The problem in reality is that Obama has not been partisan enough, and finally seems to have woken up to that fact, that this is a battle over the future of the country, and we cannot allow the extreme right wing of the GOP to win control of all branches of government!
We must fight back and give the Republican Party “hell” as Harry Truman did in 1948, and speak for real change as Franklin D. Roosevelt did with his New Deal in the 1930s and Lyndon Johnson did with his Great Society in the 1960s!
This is a battle to retain the political, social and economic reforms of the past hundred years, and to move into the future with optimism, and a belief that all citizens must play their role in the future of the nation, rather than the obsessive gathering of wealth at the expense of society at large!
So a salute to the President, and we look forward to a year and a half of active, aggressive campaigning by him as he seeks a second term in the White House, and a repudiation of the anti labor, anti women, anti children, anti elderly, anti poor, anti environment, anti science, anti health care, anti consumer regulation, anti financial regulation, anti education, anti Hispanic and Latino, anti African American, and ultimately anti middle class agenda of the Republican Party, and the Tea Party extremists within and outside the party establishment!