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Despite the overwhelming din of right-wing noise, the President gave a speech. It's one worth watching. Speaking to a fired-up crowd in Ohio at the Brent Spence Bridge, the President gave his best shot at getting people to understand the value of shoring up our crumbling infrastructure, while bringing back echoes of Ronald Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall.
The gloves are off in this battle, and anyone who doubted this President's will to fight should rethink that idea. No more compromising, no more calling out of "Congress". It's all about Republicans and Republican (lack of) leadership.
Here's the snippet of the transcript where he calls them out by name:
So my question is, what's Congress waiting for? Why is it taking so long? Now, the bridge behind us just happens to connect the state that’s home to the Speaker of the House --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: -- with the home state of the Republican leader in the Senate.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, that’s just a coincidence. (Laughter.) Purely accidental that that happened. (Laughter.) But part of the reason I came here is because Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, those are the two most powerful Republicans in government. They can either kill this jobs bill, or they can help pass this jobs bill. (Applause.) And I know these men care about their states. They care about businesses; they care about workers here. I can’t imagine that the Speaker wants to represent a state where nearly one in four bridges are classified as substandard -- one in four. I know that when Senator McConnell visited the closed bridge in Kentucky, he said that, “Roads and bridges are not partisan in Washington.” That’s great. I know that Paul Ryan, the Republican in charge of the budget process, recently said that "you can’t deny that infrastructure does creates jobs." That's what he said.
Well, if that’s the case, there’s no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects. There’s no reason to stand in the way of more jobs.
Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. (Applause.) Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. (Applause.) Pass this bill.
It's past time, in my opinion, for us to stand up and get this President's back. We can either let him give these speeches and pretend he isn't, or we can start trying to get past the ridiculous right-wing nonsense flooding every airwave in the land and put some eyes and ears on what the man is saying.
We need this bill. We need these infrastructure projects. The right-wing took right on off today on how the Brent Spence Bridge wouldn't be eligible under the President's proposal. So what? Republicans are in charge of the House, let them amend it to include it! If the damn bridge needs to be rebuilt, then they should be responsible enough to include provisions to rebuild it.
For way too long, Republicans have owned all of the narratives about spending and the economy, but narratives aren't fact, and the facts are pretty clear on who is responsible for keeping it suppressed. This isn't a question of Keynes versus Friedman at this point. It's a question of supply and demand, which will remain low until jobs are available. Infrastructure spending is one way to create jobs and create them rapidly. As Robert Reich pointed out, we could actually do an entire remake of the WPA right now and it probably wouldn't be enough, but still, it would stimulate the economy.
Here's another classic moment:
Now, the Republicans, when I talked about this earlier in the week, they said, well, this is class warfare. You know what, if asking a billionaire to pay their fair share of taxes, to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare, then you know what, I’m a warrior for the middle class. (Applause.) I’m happy to fight for the middle class. I’m happy to fight for working people. (Applause.) Because the only warfare I've seen is the battle against the middle class over the last 10, 15 years.
I would have stretched that back farther, but I'm guessing he didn't want to step on Bill Clinton. Clinton, by the way, had this to say about the ridiculous austerity "screw them all" tea party nonsense:
You know, there’s not a single solitary example on the planet, not one, of a country that is succesful because the economy has triumphed over the government and choked it off and driven the tax rates to zero, driven the regulations to nonexistent and abolished all government programs, except for defense, so people in my income group never have to pay a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon. There is no example of a succesful country that looks like that.
President Obama is doing what everyone said he should have done during the debt-ceiling debate. I am of the opinion that there was a broader strategy to what he did there and what he is now doing here -- a carrot and stick strategy. But we are past the debt ceiling debate and onto one that will, in my opinion, be a make-or-break debate. He can't stand out there and call for people to "pass the whole bill" or "rebuild this bridge" if we're not behind him.
If his speech doesn't inspire you, and the insanity of the last three Republican debates don't do it, maybe John Dean's warning about the resurgence of Nixonian politics on the right, and their efforts to game American democracy will convince you, beginning with his analysis of how the media has been gamed via advertising revenue:
There is a second reason for the disinterest, too—and an even more troubling one. Today’s mainstream news organizations are largely controlled by major corporations, which are profit-driven like never before. Most members of corporate management lean toward Republican views, and while top corporate executives typically give their news editors and producers great leeway, news organizations do not go out of their way to annoy their corporate bosses. The big money that is involved in reshaping America’s political processes has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful source of revenue for these organizations. News organizations need advertisers, and they love all the disingenuous advertisements that this political undertaking is generating.
To those of you who might be inclined to say that I am writing from a purely partisan standpoint, rest assured that indeed, I am. Because I see absolutely no reason to give these insane, power-hungry, greedy people any more traction than they already have. You don't have to love everything this president has done to understand that we're on the precipice of a very, very deep, dark chasm, a place where no bridge will save us.