What Obama Did and What Obama Did Next Julia Gazdag

President Obama’s speech Thursday night was the best thing I’ve seen on TV since The West Wing ended. He unveiled the American Jobs Act, sure to be a hit in fifty years with high schoolers all over America studying for finals. The most significant thing about it might not be its potential to boost our economy while pulling a significant portion of the population up by the bootstrap, but the fact that for once it seems Democrats and Republicans may actually work together on something. If your feet are cold right now it’s because of the icy temperatures wafting up from hell – it has clearly frozen over.

I don’t know how much you keep up with the news, but these days it has become a painful exercise to watch – and I used to watch C-SPAN for fun! I mean, I still do, but mostly if I happen to catch a late night broadcast of British parliament because it’s got more sass and yelling than an episode of Real Housewives (and better wigs). But I digress. I keep cable news at an arm’s length because it has become an abusive relationship, also with a lot of yelling, mostly by me at the TV. Much of this frustration comes from a seemingly endless stream of pundits and politicians who all seem to know how to fix everything but rarely take the initiative to do so.

Let’s catch up for a moment. After Obama was elected, a lot of liberal folks were disillusioned that he didn’t immediately fix every leaky faucet they’d been complaining about. The right wing, meanwhile, threw a whole mess of logs on the Tea Party fire and it has since left the grate and is trying to burn down the whole house. After a lot of drama, Obama’s health care plan passed and is being rolled out over the next few years. For example, while it’s no longer legal to deny anyone under 19 health insurance on the basis of a pre-existing condition, I still have to cross my fingers for the next four years that I’ll get coverage because I coughed within the past year. Then, recently, there was a giant (giant) to-do in Congress over the debt-ceiling vote. Here’s a great New York Times article for some light reading. Basically the president was stuck between a rock and a hard place, both the left and right were upset with him, and everyone went home angry. It was such a Bartlett moment, I would have given anything to get Aaron Sorkin and a camera crew into the Oval office.

Ultimately the republicans put their personal and party political goals ahead of what was best for the country, and as far as I’m concerned that’s straight-up treason, or at the very least a total deviation from their job description. Stick that in your nationalist pipe and smoke it (but not in here because it irritates my asthma). This is why it’s such an important shift that both Republicans and Democrats are behind the president’s new American Jobs Act. By which I mean, Speaker John Boehner stated there would be no official Republican response, so naturally every potential republican candidate for the 2012 presidency took the opportunity to criticize the speech (mostly on twitter, the soapbox of choice for the modern politician on the go).

One of Obama’s key points in the speech, repeated numerous times, was that it contained elements agreed upon by both Democrats and Republicans, and that they should pass the Act immediately.

                  “The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months. Some of them are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.”

The main people arguing Obama’s jobs plans are potential Republican candidates, who all have ideas on how they could implement a better plan. Candidates arguing over who can make a better plan are like my family at large gatherings: everyone knows the best way to carve the turkey, but it’ll all get on the plate eventually anyway, so arguing just wastes time that I could spend eating already. (For the record I’m a vegetarian, but that wouldn’t fit this metaphor unless I had voted for Nader.)

So what does this American Jobs Act aim to do? It creates tax incentives for hiring new employees, especially for small businesses. It also aims to focus on strengthening education (which needs all the help it can get, I think at this point schools in third world countries have more textbooks than American public schools – that’s not a fact, don’t quote me), preventing layoffs (up to 280,000 according to the plan) and keeping teachers already in the classroom where they are. This aspect of the Act is especially relevant to women, as they make up 78% of pre-K to 12th grade teachers, according to White House statistics.

In fact, according to a fact sheet from the White House Office of Public Engagement “…employment growth for women has been slower than men during the recovery. Today nearly two-thirds of women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families, so it’s critical that any plan for recovery and job growth include opportunities for women.” This also includes a lot of single mothers, which touches on another goal of the jobs act: to focus on low-income areas, because let’s face it, that’s where unemployment hits hardest. This is also significant because while equal pay is still just a fantasy of second wave feminism, the Obama administration is clearly taking steps to focus specifically on the female half of the population, its contribution, and its needs.

The plan also favors small businesses and aims to nurture them. There are incentives and benefits for newer businesses, as well as for hiring veterans. The budget for the plan is structured so that it won’t create new taxes, but will also focus on modernizing public schools in both rural and urban areas across the country. Basically Obama was mischievous and sneaked education reform into this act. There is even an incentive for employers to hire new employees who have been without work long-term, and prohibiting discrimination against them.

Of course, this is a more complex plan, trying to resolve an even more complex issue. Though we’ve only skimmed the surface, it’s immensely important that we learn as much as possible about this and other pieces of legislation going through Congress. The more we know about what’s going on in local, state and national government, the less likely we are to elect representatives who will abuse the system at our expense. We may not have enough textbooks, or even desks in our schools, but as long as the internet is at our fingertips, there is no excuse for not educating ourselves. This plan is full of the hope, foresight and ambition that the Obama campaign promised, but ultimately it is up to us as citizens to make the informed decisions it takes to make this country truly democratic.

 

photo from www.whitehouse.gov

comments

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  1. They never get anything done. That’s why we never watch the news at home…

  2. I have never read something that Manichean since the Gospel. I innocently thought political analysis involved more grey than “black & white”.

    • 1. I would call this an editorial. 2. I’m not even talking to you because you haven’t added me back on facebook so I still can’t tag you in your wedding photos.

  3. First of all, I grew up in a third world African country, and we certainly have more textbooks in American schools than they do there.

    Secondly, in the interest of keeping all your readers fully informed on this topic, they should check out the dismal reviews Obama’s jobs speech received from The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Daily Mail, USA Today, and The Los Angeles Times, rather than just relying on a couple New York Times cheerleaders and the numbers the White House puts out to promote its own plan. Like you said, fully informed!

    Thirdly, it isn’t treason to hold your ideological ground by valid congressional means, unless you also consider treason Congress ramming through a bill by special congressional rules after it fails flat out.

    Fourthly, Boehner didn’t feel the need to comment because he’s waiting for the CBO to estimate the cost. It’s what responsible leaders do.

    But I’m confident all of you will do your research, think through all the negative incentives it may create (eg. Will reducing charitable deductions cause less charitable giving?), and get a fully formed opinion before coming to any conclusions.

    • Yep, I considered that, it’s just hard to tell, as you don’t address any of the points made by other commentators on the subject. You have no reason to address adversarial sources, it just makes for a more convincing argument, especially when you rely so heavily on what the president claims this thing will do. But you’re right, calling the NYT writers “cheerleaders” is like calling lawful politicians’ informed and considered actions “treason” – a tacky thing to do. As for severely endangering our economy: so long as the Fed controls money supply, we won’t default. The debt ceiling is a political device like any other. Like I said earlier, ramming through the health care plan by antique Senate procedures after it failed out right seems just immoral, yet you have no problem with it. If you want respect from people that don’t share your opinions, then treat them by the same standards as you treat yourself.

    • I hope you realize I was being facetious with the textbooks comment. Have you considered that perhaps the reason I took the stance I did is because of my belief in it, despite the fact that not everyone agrees with it? Though I posted a link to a New York Times article that stuck with me, the times was not my only source for research material and calling them cheerleaders demeans their informed and considered opinions. Which again, I happen to share. As for Boehner, I regard it as a positive move that as the Republican Speaker of the House, he has taken a stance that will allow all parties to potentially work together and move forward.
      And I stand by my statement of the Republicans’ actions being treason. They have severely endangered our economy and infrastructure in order to meet their immediate personal and party goals. It was selfish, it was childish, and it was unarguably damaging to the country they should be serving. That is treason – infuriating, irresponsible treason.

  4. This is an awesome article. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who thinks of that fiasco earlier this summer as treason. Seriously, they should all be fired or whatever you do to politicians and face charges for the situation they caused. There should be term limits on Congress the same as the Presidency. http://duetoinflationmy25cents.blogspot.com/ my blog has several posts that I did during that time and since. Thank you so much for this piece.

  5. can i just say that is the best article I’ve read/heard (NPR articles) on this subject? BECAUSE IT IS. Very nicely written, covers the major points of the AJA and is UNDERSTANDABLE. I’m a Poli Sci major and have a hard time understanding some of these pieces on the AJA because they get too wordy and lose focus. This is an awesome piece and i’m sharing it everywhere.

    • The New York Times has some good, comprehensive articles that have been published since Thursday, that cover not just the Act itself but the response to it from both Congress and the small business community.

  6. I’ll have to do some research now! Thanks for posting this, I love politics! I feel like you guys might have been engineered specifically to appeal to me on every level. :D

  7. Hearted so much!

  8. Yes! Love seeing politics on Hello Giggles.

    Completely with you on how exhausting it has become to keep up with the news. I used to fall asleep to CSPAN! And I admit to being less informed than I should be on a lot of what’s going on right now, preferring to know a little about a lot instead of being really informed on the issues that are most important to me.

    This was easy to understand and informative. Can’t wait to see more on here.

  9. I completely agree… hopefully this bill is something that will continue to be supported by both sides of the isle so we can start moving forward again! I can’t really understand anyone trying to obstruct this bill in the first place; it would make answering to unemployed constituents at home fairly difficult, I would imagine.

    Also, British Parliament on CSPAN is the BEST! I used to have viewing parties in my dorm room in college…. for some reason, no one would ever show up. Huh.

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