Monday, July 19, 2010

Extending Unemployment: Obama Hits the Right Note.

It's no secret that we here at Rip and Read (and when I say "we", I mean me and the mouse and my pocket.) have been less than enamored with President Obama of late. Where we've looked for the soaring rhetoric and infectious confidence of a Franklin Roosevelt, we have found instead a less than inspiring style of leadership which reminds us of something between Richard Nixon at his most bland and a package of damp saltine crackers.

Still... there is, in the end, no doubt where our loyalty lies and we WANT to find reasons to champion the President.

Today, on You-Tube, he gave us one. In his speech on the need to extend unemployment benefits, President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said:

"After years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people [Republicans] who didn't have ANY problems spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn't offer relief to middle class Americans...who really need help"

Unlike former Vice-President Dick Cheney, I DO believe that deficits matter. I think that it is of great importance that the United States Government remain strong and solvent.

As a concerned citizen, I am sick at the thought of how much money we have spent bailing out large corporations and banks, and, while I think that the infrastructure projects undertaken through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are long overdue, I am by no means sanguine about spending the money now, when the cupboards are bare.

However, we really have no choice. Not only is continuing to extend a hand during profoundly uncertain times the moral thing to do, it is also the economically sane thing to do.

Time and time again, in this country, we have watched as the Republicans have returned us to "Supply Side Economics". We have watched as first the Reagan Era and now the Bush Era came crashing down in a giant recession, mired by scandals and the need for massive government action to clean up the mistakes (and crimes) of the unregulated Rich. We have watched as the "Trickle Down" theory has failed to work, and the gap between rich and poor has grown...leaving the ranks of the middle class both thinned and precariously placed.

So, yes, I'm worried about deficits. But the time to REALLY scream, rant and rave about them was six years ago, when George W. Bush and his tame congress where giving away money right and left. When they were not minding the store at the SEC or the Bureau of Mineral Management...laying the groundwork for disasters and deficits to come.

And all this comes years, decades, after the verdict was in supply-side economics. Trickle Down economics and an unregulated marketplace lead us into the Great Depression. Republican Herbert Hoover, clinging to his policies, was powerless to offer any relief. Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal began to put people back to work. World War Two, and the MASSIVE Government Spending that came with it, finished the job. The jury of history is so solidly in with the verdict that it seems unbelievable to me that we are evening debating it again.

We can argue how about how much we should spend, how much we should tax and when, but to waste time debating the merits of the case when Americans are out of work is ...well, it's just plain crazy.

I think that is what keeps me so near boiling point when it comes to politics these days. That those who drove this country off an economic cliff have the temerity to think that they should be allowed back at the wheel.

President Obama is right to call them out. He is right to remind both his opponents and supporters just WHOSE MESS THIS REALLY IS.

I, for one, am hoping for more of the same.