Obama's Speech Alienates Republicans
Issue   |   Wed, 09/14/2011 - 00:42

What was interesting to note about President Obama’s speech last Thursday night was that it was perhaps more partisan than any speech he’s given so far. There were both direct and indirect, subtle and obvious attacks on the Republican Party and the Tea Party. The President attacked openly the theoretic foundation of the Republican movement with his talk about the reduction of the size of government. Moreover, his tone was sterner and more aggressive than in previous speeches. He was defiant...why?

The President has been criticized as “soft” under the attack of Republican leadership. One supporting example would be his choice to reschedule this very speech when the Republican leadership requested that it be rescheduled — it’s unusual for a President to give way to the opposition party’s demands on so trivial a matter.

So, what defiance was I speaking of? By refusing to yield in his speech, the President is shoring up support with his Democratic base, which will assist him in the next election.

Given that Democrats and Republicans waited until the last minute in the face of national crisis this summer in the Debt Debate, it would appear that they are exceptionally unwilling to cooperate.

That debate is centered around the issue of taxation. Our President did not concede this point of extreme contention, however. Rather, he spoke out again about increasing taxes. This is a position, as he mentioned, some Republicans have sworn never to waver on. Why did he include such aggressive words in this speech?

Recent polls have suggested that the idea of raising taxes on billionaires is supported by much of the populace. Raising taxes on the rich is not a complicated idea, and certainly it is one the jobless can embrace. Therefore, the summary reads thus: factually, the President’s declarations concerning tax hikes are an exercise in futility; politically, the President’s declarations will provide traction and assist him in the next election.

Now, let us consider the funding of the “American Jobs Act.” It’s an act proposed by the President aimed, via many avenues, at job creation. It will be funded by increases in spending cuts, which are already taking place as part of the fallout from the Debt Debate. Thus, the President is relying on a committee appointed to find more than a trillion dollars in government spending cuts. He asks them to find over $400 billion in further cuts to pay for his bill. This is a bipartisan committee, and though knowledge of its particular machinations may be unknown, it is hard to imagine such a committee laying claim to much success in excess of the enormous amount already mandated by the results of the Debt Debate. Why propose a plan with such seemingly weak footing?

It has been clear through common consensus on Main Street, through repeatedly dismal job reports on Wall Street and through informed economic opinion that job creation is of utmost importance for the American economy. Could the President, one must ask, not have put forward such a plan? Could he have stood pat, with an election only 14 months away, and at least not provided a seemingly feasible plan? At the very least, however, there appears to be weak footing for the plan he’s proposed, even if it is a plan that was desperately required. Putting it forward may be futile, but it certainly assists the President in his re-election aims.

Finally, consider that the President’s term is coming to a close, and recall all the political wrangling that has taken place. There have been repeated attempts to gain political power through populist action in Congress. The President cannot continually perpetuate this conflict if he is to solve any of America’s problems. What he lacks, in this goal, is the ability to force change. By leaving the ball in the Republican court with his proposal and attacking Republican theory itself, but he not only enflames debate, but also takes a firm stance. He has chosen the stance, it would appear, most Americans feel comfortable with. This stance throws the Republican party’s actions up against popular opinion and, therefore, in sharp relief. The President has shored up his political position in the hope that Republicans will fail in the eyes of the people. That, perhaps, is the most efficient way forward in this deadlock. He awaits political mistake, and the cards are on the table.

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