President Obama is taking the American Jobs Act (AJA) on the road to the people with whom it will resonate most: the currently unemployed; young people in college facing a slow jobs market; and veterans back home looking for work. He is at his best in this environment. It's what I wish he would have done more of during the horrid debt-ceiling debate. He's not out there peddling high hopes, either.
After a month of brutal town halls where people were so angry at their Republican tea party representatives in Congress that some actually cancelled town halls, the President is speaking their language and it's worrisome to the obstructionist Republicans.
Here's the transcript of his closer in Richmond, Virginia. It wasn't an accident that his first stop was Eric Cantor's district:
So I’m asking all of you to lift up your voices, not just here in Richmond -- anybody watching, listening, following online -- I want you to call, I want you to email, I want you to tweet -- (laughter) -- I want you to fax, I want you to visit, I want you to Facebook, send a carrier pigeon -- (laughter.) I want you to tell your congressperson, the time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now. The time to create jobs is now. (Applause.)
Pass this bill. If you want construction workers on the worksite -- pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want teachers in the classroom -- pass this bill. (Applause.) You want small business owners to hire new people -- pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want veterans to get their fair share of opportunity that they helped create -- pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want a tax break -- pass this bill. (Applause.)
Prove you will fight as hard for tax cuts for workers and middle-class people as you do for oil companies and rich folks. Pass this bill. (Applause.) Let’s get something done. (Applause.)
The next election is 14 months away. We cannot wait. The American people do not have the luxury of waiting another 14 months for some action. Some of you are living paycheck to paycheck, week to week, day by day. Now is not the time for people in Washington to be worrying about their jobs. It's time for them to be worrying about your jobs. (Applause.) Now is the time to put Americans back to work. Now is the time to act. (Applause.)
We are not a people that just look and watch and wait to see what happens. We're Americans. We make things happen. (Applause.) We're tougher than these times. We are bigger than the smallness of our politics. We are patriots and we are pioneers, and innovators and entrepreneurs, who through individual effort and through a common commitment to one another will build an economy that is once again the engine and the envy of the world. (Applause.) And we will write our own destiny.
It's within our power. But we've got to seize the moment. So let’s just shake off all the naysaying and the anxiety and the hand-wringing. Enough of that. Let's get to work. (Applause.) Let’s show the world once again why America is the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.) God bless America. (Applause.)
There is nothing more critical to the successful outcome of this legislation than us, and not only because we hope representatives have at least a small clue about what their job is. The reason the tea party got any traction during the health care debate was because they showed up. They tweeted, facebooked, made stupid signs and showed up.
Eric Cantor is afraid we will, too. Via Daily Kos, Eric Cantor's whine:
This is my objection to the message that was delivered tonight. The message was: either accept my package as it is, or I will take it to the American people. I would say that that’s the wrong approach. What we’re here to do is try to transcend differences, not let them get in the way in the areas we can make progress on.
Interesting choice of words there. The wrong approach is to take it to the people, why? And then to follow that up with transcending differences being a product of NOT taking it to the people? Cantor knows just like the rest of us know that when this plan is taken to the people they're going to like it and support it. There won't be any differences with them, only with Cantor's Koch party keepers.
Oh, and then there was this from Cantor, after the Richmond speech:
How perfectly Republican. Claim an "all or nothing" strategy is terrible because that's the strategy he and his merry band of ugly men have been taking since this President took office. It's so cynical it burns.
This is a perfect example of President Obama's 2008 message: We are the change. Not him. Us. I think we ought to take it to the streets and tell every elected official in this country that we can't wait any longer for them to do what they were hired to do. Jobs, and jobs now.
Does this mean I believe in unicorns and a cowed GOP? No, of course I don't. But President Obama appears to have listened to the criticisms we've all made about how we don't want compromise, we want action. And if we want action, I submit we have to get out there and make them hear us instead of letting the tea party have all the attention. They should pass this bill now.