Tag Archive: economy


Speaking on Sept 27th at a Denver high school, Obama continued to echo Elizabeth Warren’s sensible take-down of the GOP  “class warfare” charge:

Around the 16 minute mark, Obama says:

And keep in mind I’m not saying this because we should be punishing success.  This is the Land of Opportunity.  What’s great about this country is that any of these young people here, if they’ve got a good idea, if they go out there and they’re willing to work hard, they can start a business, they can create value, great products, great services.  They can make millions, make billions.  That’s great.  That’s what America is all about.  Anybody can make it if they try.

But what’s also a quintessentially American idea is that those of us who’ve done well should pay our fair share to contribute to the upkeep of the nation that made our success possible — (applause) — because nobody — nobody did well on their own.  A teacher somewhere helped to give you the skills to succeed.  (Applause.)

Firefighters and police officers are protecting your property.  You’re moving your goods and products and services on roads that somebody built.  That’s how we all do well together.  We got here because somebody else invested in us, and we’ve got to make sure this generation of students can go to college on student aid or scholarships like I did.  We’ve got to make sure that we keep investing in the kind of government research that helped to create the Internet, which countless private sector companies then used to create tens of millions of jobs.

And you know what?  I’m positive — I’ve talked to them, most wealthy Americans agree with this.  Of course, the Republicans in Congress, they call this class warfare.  You know what?  If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior, a warrior for the working class, I will accept that.  I will wear that charge as a badge of honor.  (Applause.)

The only warfare I’ve seen is the battle that’s been waged against middle-class families in this country for a decade now.

(From the transcript of the speech, posted on the White House website)

 

Steve Benen noted that,

I had a chance to check this rhetoric against the speech as it was written, and most of this was ad-libbed. (Contrary to GOP rhetoric, the president rarely sticks to what appears on a teleprompter.)

The larger point, though, is that Obama’s rhetoric is echoing Warren’s rhetoric in fairly obvious ways. The president, in explicit ways we haven’t heard before, is linking his vision of government activism to a meaningful social contract.

Greg Sargent’s take on it addressed that issue and more:

… the most effective rebuttal to the “class warfare” charge is to stress that raising taxes on the wealthy is not about envy. Rather, it’s about better serving the common good in a way that makes wealth creation possible in the first place.

Another critical point: Obama’s argument doesn’t begin and end with his case about taxes. He’s weaving it in with a broader argument he’s making about values and today’s Republican Party. By regularly invoking the crude reaction of some audience members at GOP debates — the “let him die” moment, the booing of the soldier — and by continually insisting that we’re all in this together, Obama is trying to build a larger case about the choice voters face, between the optimistic, inclusive, charitable vision he’s fighting for and a fundamentally mean-spirited, exclusionary, pessimistic one that’s cloaked in cries of “class warfare.”

And for me, the whole package speaks to what I believe is the core of progressive politics, and the legacy of liberal belief. Why do we gather in communities and find common cause with each other? because it benefits us all, mutually. That would be a good thing, right?

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Elizabeth Warren articulates something I’ve attempted to put into words, and couldn’t quite get:

Transcript:

I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is’ whatever. 

No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Love this woman.  Hope she gets to Congress to speak for all of us.

Jobs

Lotsa talk for weeks now about jobs – with Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act* being promoted by the White House, numerous smart economists and bloggers, and most Democrats, the long-awaited Pivot To Jobs!!!!!! has apparently arrived.

The Democrats are saying we need to stimulate jobs directly through federal and state spending, that the benefits will outweigh the costs. Short term spending will create income to be spent on food, shelter, household goods, services, luxury items, houses, cars, education, everything which we use. Those transactions will be taxed, which will start a cycle of digging ourselves out of the mess we’re in.  Makes sense to me.

The Republicans say that giving tax breaks to the “job creators” will help them create jobs. Except if they wanted to create jobs they could do so right now – the job creators are stashing cash in investments, not labor. But if jobs are going to be created through tax cuts, from where I stand it will happen at an awfully slow pace. We’ll lose more and have farther to dig ourselves out of. It might just create a downward spiral. I think the Republicans are talking Unicorns and Rainbows, waving magical wands of job creation.

I’m in a small business.  Our sales have suffered over the last three years. Why? I ask tons of customers how they are doing, whether they’ve stayed busy in their own work, why they were laid off (amazing how many people get tattoos when they are laid off, but that’s another story…), and what their sense of the economy – local and nationwide – is.

What I hear from our customers is that they are holding back on tattoo work, or not getting tattoo work, because they aren’t working. They’ve lost their overtime. Couples are down to one-and-a-half, or even just one job. A few are on unemployment. Our business would be better if all of them were working like they were before the crash. Duh. No brainer there.

My impression of what it going on is honed by talking to my customers who are themselves small business owners. When people have more money to spend, these business people will start hiring to meet increased demand. Till then – also a no-brainer – they won’t need people to meet a demand which does not exist.

No surprise I back the Democratic approach; it syncs with everything I think government is structured to address to help us, as a people, as a whole, ride out the storms.

I like Unicorns and rainbows, and magic wands. But I like them in fiction, where they belong, not here in the real world where they tend to really muck things up.

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