Posted 8 months ago on July 25, 2013, 3:54 a.m. EST by WSmith
from Cornelius, OR
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Obama Goes Big [~ RepubliCons Go Jihad]
By E.J. Dionne - July 25, 2013
[In spite of the GOP's (strangely disregarded) scorched earth obstructionism, zealous filibustering and pathological hostage taking, twice duly elected President Obama sets out to give struggling Americans a long overdue square deal. RepubliCons will do everything in their power to defeat the President and continue the unprecedented (and also strangely disregarded) redistribution of wealth to their 1% masters, but just raising the issue and working to achieve it puts Obama light years ahead of his detractors. Having learned our painful lessons from 2010, we can all help by Voting in the 2014 midterm elections.]
WASHINGTON -- Presidents are judged not only by the things they do but also by how successful they are in influencing the actions of the presidents who follow.
Leaders who want their achievements to endure know their task includes changing the terms of the national debate and leaving behind an intellectual legacy that shapes how future generations see the country and its possibilities.
Franklin D. Roosevelt accomplished this. So did Ronald Reagan. President Obama traveled Wednesday to Knox College in Illinois to give the speech that launched his effort to join them. It was where, in 2005, he originally laid out his philosophy of government.
Obama is making this bid in the face of a political culture that is far more cynical than it was in the days of FDR or the Gipper. He confronts adversaries determined to move the country in exactly the opposite direction from the one he would have it choose. And up to now, the president has been foiled or distracted whenever he has tried to focus the public conversation on reversing rising inequality and restoring social mobility. So why should his latest effort be any different? Here are three reasons.
First, Obama and his advisers have learned from past failures. Earlier speeches along these lines came and went, barely causing a ripple in the public's consciousness. This time, the president is embarking on an eight-week campaign to keep his themes at the center of the debate. He wants to bend the news cycle rather than bow to it.
By giving a series of addresses that include specific proposals -- some old, some new -- he hopes to grab the public's attention, and the media's. His grass-roots operation will mobilize supporters to talk up these themes with their neighbors. Whatever else it is, this campaign is not a one-off.
Second, he will be speaking to a country that's fed up with the mean, narrow and pessimistic (GOP) tone emanating from a capital locked in what Obama called "short-term thinking and stale debates." The president's critics have said over and over that he needs to "go big" and push the system beyond itself. Even his friends have been frustrated at his difficulty in seizing the initiative and confronting obstructionist opponents. He appears to have listened.
But the most important reason this offensive has a chance is that it goes to the heart of why Obama got elected in the first place and then won re-election. A substantial American majority just doesn't buy the (RW) ideas that Obama forcefully rejected: that "inequality is both inevitable and just" and that "an unfettered free market without any restraints inevitably produces the best outcomes, regardless of the pain and uncertainty imposed on ordinary families."
In describing his priorities, Obama's language was plain but direct: "Good jobs. A better bargain for the middle class and the folks who are working to get into the middle class. An economy that grows from the middle out. ... That's where I'll focus my energies -- not just for the next few months, but for the remainder of my presidency."
"Middle out" is the key concept. Since the Reagan era, conservatives have enjoyed enormous success in making supply-side economics -- the belief (cruel hoax) that wealth flows to everyone else from the economy's commanding heights -- a powerful, underground default position. A corollary (deception): Government can do little to make the nation richer other than cut taxes and reduce its own reach.
The alternative view is, as Obama put it, that "growing inequality" is "not just morally wrong; it's bad economics."
"When middle-class families have less to spend," Obama insisted, "businesses have fewer consumers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy." In the long history of the country, concentrations of wealth and income always have perverse effects.
Broadening our nation's winners' circle, on the other hand, has always been the best strategy for sustainable growth. We need to acknowledge this once again.
There is more Obama needs to do to make his case for the specific steps Washington can take to restore shared, robust prosperity. He will have to beat back the forces that would continue to shrink government through a sequester that is making the recovery slower than it should be.
But this time, he cannot let himself be sidetracked. With 1,276 days left in his presidency, he chose to draw a clear line and start a big argument. His place in history will hang in large part on whether he can win it. (c) 2013, Washington Post Writers Group
Obama's Speech: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/314164-1
Racist Roots of GOP War on Obama
July 24, 2013 | By Robert Parry
Exclusive: Right-wing Republicans in Congress are plotting to cripple the U.S. government if Barack Obama, the first African-American president, doesn’t submit to their demands. The battle pretends to be over the size of government but it echoes the whips, chains and epithets of America’s racist past, writes Robert Parry.
The United States finds itself at a crossroad, with a choice of moving toward a multicultural future behind a more activist federal government or veering down a well-worn path that has marked various tragic moments of American history when white racists have teamed up with “small government” extremists.
Despite losing Election 2012 – both in the presidential vote (by five million) and the overall tally for Congress (by one million) – the Republicans are determined to use their gerrymandered House “majority” and their filibuster-happy Senate minority to slash programs that are viewed as giving “stuff” (in Mitt Romney’s word) to poorer Americans and especially minorities.
Republicans are gearing up to force a series of fiscal crises this fall, threatening to shut down the federal government and even default on the national debt, if they don’t get their way. Besides sabotaging President Barack Obama’s health reform law, the Republicans want to devastate funding for food stamps, environmental advancements, transportation, education assistance and other domestic programs.
“These are tough bills,” Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Kentucky, who heads the House Appropriations Committee, told the New York Times. “His priorities are going nowhere.”
A key point is to slash help to what the Right sees as “undeserving” Americans, especially people of color. The ugly side of this crypto-racist behavior also surfaced in the gloating by right-wing pundits over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Fox News pundits, in particular, have mocked the outrage over the verdict from America’s black community and Obama’s personal expression of sympathy.
It is now clear that Obama’s election in 2008 was not the harbinger of a “post-racial” America, but rather the signal for white right-wingers to rally their forces to “take back America.” The fact that the modern Republican Party has become almost exclusively white and the nation’s minorities have turned more and more to the Democratic Party has untethered the GOP from any sense of racial tolerance.
There is now a white-supremacist nihilism emerging in the Republican strategy, a visceral contempt for even the idea of a multi-racial democracy that favors a more vigorous federal government. Some of these extremists seem to prefer sinking the world’s economy via a U.S. debt default than compromising with President Obama on his economic and social agenda. Though the mainstream media avoids the white supremacist framing for the political story – preferring to discuss the upcoming clash as a philosophical dispute over big versus small government, — the reality is that the United States is lurching into a nasty struggle over the preservation of white political dominance. The size-of-government narrative is just a euphemistic way of avoiding the underlying issue of race, a dodge that is as old as the Republic.
House G.O.P. Sets New Offensive on Obama Goals
By JONATHAN WEISMAN | Published: July 23, 2013
WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans are moving to gut many of President Obama’s top priorities with the sharpest spending cuts in a generation and a new push to hold government financing hostage unless the president’s signature health care law is stripped of money this fall.