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Obama Targets Boehner, Reps’ Economic Philosophy

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Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic argued yesterday that President Barack Obama may well be done with the any notion of bipartisanship regarding cooperation with Republicans going forward, at least in the immediate future. As Cohn noted, “I think it’s safe to say that President Obama has given up on bipartisanship, at least for the foreseeable future. … Today, Obama is using the platform to remind people of what he wants to do for the country, as well as what he’s already done, and why he thinks it’s superior to the Republican approach.”

Cohn is referring to a speech Obama gave today in Cleveland, Ohio, in which Obama was critical of economic proposals of House Minority Leader John Boehner. Boehner spoke in the same city a couple weeks ago on August 24.

Obama said Boehner offered “no new policies” and “no new ideas” but simply the same tired agenda that has already proven to be self-defeating. The idea, according to Boehner — and the idea doesn’t seemed to have changed much since the days of Reagan – is that if we give tax breaks to wealthy folks, they will, in turn, spend more and spur the economy. But as I’ve maintained, wealthy people are wealthy for a reason. No, says, Robert McTeer, a blogger for Forbes, who noted that while rich people — here we are referring to people who make more than $250,000 (McTeer put the figure of $200,00, but that has never been the actual figure referred to by Obama regarding taxes) — may not spend as much in the “first round on consumption” they do put money into the economy in “later rounds on investment.” But I don’t see how investment expenditures in any way benefit small business owners and regular folks with normative-type businesses, such as the mom-and-pop retail store on Main Street, U.S.A.

That said, Cohn says he thinks Obama may have severed himself from bipartisanship altogether because of such a fatuous view of economic growth from Boehner and others.

But I think he may have severed it sooner, right around his first State of the Union address in January, or possibly before. As we know, the much ballyhooed health care bill gained final passage in March without one single Republican vote and with 34 Democrats votes against it. The party of “No” spoke clearly. A Guardian article framed it well with this opening: “Barack Obama last night forced his bitterly fought healthcare reform bill through Congress, bringing near-universal coverage to Americans and delivering the first major triumph of his presidency.”

“Forced” being the keyword since health care reform, with the health of many well-deserving Americans hanging in the balance, something had to be done, and that was an issue in which the United States has lagged behind other modernized countries for decades. Thus it is with the economy. Boehner’s notions about economic recovery have simply been proven ineffective over and over, and his attempts to protect big business and the rich investment crowd fall on deaf ears at this point.

And just what was Beohner’s top contributor in 2009-10, one might wonder? An insurance and investment company, namely American Financial Group, Inc.


[Photo caption/credit: Luke Sharrett/The New York Times; President Obama is pictured with Congressional party leaders in late July in the White House.]
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About Jeremy Styron

  • PASC

    Oh, how I wish people were more aware of what you have written. We are such a shallow society, seeking the quick fix and the simple explanation–no matter how complex or interrelated the crises we face are!

  • The speech, excellent as it was, was a campaign speech more than an official presidential policy speech.

    The GOP gave up on bipartisanship about 18 months ago [if not before]. They have a consistent scorched-earth policy with regard to “cooperation” with the White House, although they frequently complain that they are the victims.

    Because of high unemployment, their negativism has resonated. Some strong counterpunching was called for, and Mr. Obama’s Ohio speech was a good, if late, start.

  • John Wilson

    Showering money on the rich in hopes that they will invest (to sell in what markets, one may ask, since reduced wages have reduced consumption) is quite foolish since the USA is about 40% excess capacity already, banks are sitting on $2trillion in cash now, and businesses are sitting on $1.3trillion in savings.

  • Thanks guys for reading and commenting, guys.

    And I agree handyguy, the GOP, in kind, gave up on bipartisanship the moment Obama took the oath. Little wonder, isn’t it, why it took 50 years to finally pass sweeping health care reform.