Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cowards And Heroes

Make no bones about it; the focus this week will be on two topics - jobs and heroes. They are fitting subjects in a week that began with the Labor Day holiday, and which ends with the tenth anniversary of the disasters of 9/11.

On Monday, a handful of 2012 GOP Presidential candidates held the first of TWO debate-like events this week -  without Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who flew back to Texas to posture but not really do anything about the wildfires ravaging his state. Not surprisingly, at the forum hosted by Tea Party poser Sen. Jim Demint of South Carolina, the five Republican candidates attacked the President - though they also increasingly went after each other.

Meanwhile, the REAL President Obama - or at least the version of him that won the election in 2008 - gave a rousing speech at an AFL-CIO Labor Day event in Detroit, Michigan. His message was positive, upbeat, and didn't include discussions of the debt, deficit, or "shared sacrifice." Instead, the President addressed the war on workers, as well as the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican Party.

The President said, "I know it’s not easy when there's some folks who have their sights trained on you. After all that unions have done to build and protect the middle class, you’ve got people trying to claim that you’re responsible for the problems middle-class folks are facing. You’ve got Republicans saying you’re the ones exploiting working families. Imagine that."

For once, the President didn't back down on his criticism of Congressional Republicans and their plan to bog down the country's business for the forseeable future - and he told Congress they MUST pass a jobs bill and they needed to give tax breaks to working class Americans, if they were going to give them to anyone at all.

"We’re going to see if we’ve got some straight shooters in Congress. We’re going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party," the President said. "You want -- you say you’re the party of tax cuts? Well then, prove you’ll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle-class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent Americans. Show us what you got."

His speech was good - but we sincerely hope he backs it up with action for a change.

There are a great many things the Executive Branch of the U.S. government cannot do alone - including save the economy. While President Obama may have presided over eighteen straight months of meager but positive PRIVATE job sector growth, the lack of Congress in doing anything meaningful on jobs or the economy has lead the public sector - local, state, and federal governments - to cut jobs so hard any private sector growth has been cancelled out. The lack of participation by Congress is the biggest single reason everything the President has tried so far to help spur our economy has ended up returning only half-baked results.

There are 535 voting members of Congress and nine Supreme Court justices, as well as over 210 million voting-age Americans (but no voting corporations) who are all part of this government.  Millions of these same Americans need jobs that corporations and businesses - who are sitting on billions of dollars in cash - have yet to create, at least not in this country.

We don't expect the President's speech on jobs this week to magically create massive demand in the marketplace - the REAL reason private companies and corporations have remained siting on the sidelines for so long. Even if private sector growth exploded, until we correct the gaping loopholes in our tax code that the rich and corporations fly through all the time, the public sector still won't have the money it needs, and America will continue hemorrhaging public sector jobs.

We also don't expect Congress - especially the Republicans in Congress - to do anything on the jobs front. Most of the cowards on both sides of the Congressional aisle were too afraid to even have town hall meetings with their constituents last month. They sure as hell aren't likely to upset their corporate campaign donors by pushing for a more just tax code in an election year.

What we do expect this week, from both President Obama, as well as his Republican challengers, is some hard details on how they plan to enlist the millions of Americans who have been waiting to become heroes in our own economic recovery.

What those details and plans will reveal is just who is ready to lead this country forward, towards progress. Those millions of Americans who have been without work for far too long are watching closely, and will surely remember this week come election day 2012.

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