Thursday, August 11, 2011

Obama to America: Call Congress If You Want Your Precious Jobs

President Obama pivoted to rolled-up-sleeves anger mode in Michigan today, blaming Congress for gridlock on the jobs situation, and telling his audience that if they want something done, they should hound their representatives into crafting some legislation.  Not that he has any specific jobs plan himself.  He is still leading  from behind, only this time he wants the American people to be his human shields. In other words, become his unpaid surrogates and do his job for him.  It's all on us.  He never said yes he could, he said Yes We Can. If we don't succeed in lighting a fire under their butts, don't blame him.  He's busy jetting around the country doing photo-ops and multimillion-dollar fund-raisers for his campaign.  He has his own precious job to worry about.  Apparently, that job does not involve work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In making this national economic emergency and humanitarian crisis all about presidential politics as usual, here's how N.Y. Times reporter/White House stenographer Helene Cooper puts it:
President Obama, seeking to jump-start public enthusiasm for his handling of the sputtering economy, delivered an angry speech on Thursday before auto industry workers in which he sharply criticized Congress for the political divide that he said had worsened the country’s economic crisis....
(Not jump-start the economy, mind you -- just get people all excited about him).

For Mr. Obama, Thursday’s trip, coming at perhaps the lowest point in his presidency, was a chance to try to regain his footing and present himself as an assured leader with programs and proposals that will not only help put the American economy back on track, but will also boost competitiveness.
Only trouble is, he had no specific proposal, other than some vague mumblings about infrastructure and trade deals that will serve to export more jobs along with creating another tax haven or three.  The person with the real ideas is Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who has proposed not only a Super Jobs Committee to counter the unconstitutional and undemocratic Budget-Slashing Super Congress, but a detailed bill that would create over two million jobs, right away!  Funny that Obama accuses Congress of not having any ideas, when Schakowsky's plan is staring him right in the face.  Oh wait.... it's a left-of-center progressive plan. It must not be grand-bargainish or corporation-friendly enough.  Here's what's in it:
  • The School Improvement Corps would create 400,000 construction and 250,000 maintenance jobs by funding positions created by public school districts to do needed school rehabilitation improvements.
  • The Park Improvement Corps would create 100,000 jobs for youth between the ages of 16 and 25 through new funding to the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service’s Public Lands Corps Act.  Young people would work on conservation projects on public lands include restoration and rehabilitation of natural, cultural, and historic resources.
  • The Student Jobs Corps would creates 250,000 more part-time, work study jobs for eligible college students through new funding for the Federal Work Study Program.
  • The Neighborhood Heroes Corps would hire 300,000 teachers, 40,000 new police officers, and 12,000 firefighters.
  • The Health Corps would hire at least 40,000 health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and health care workers to expand access in underserved rural and urban areas.
  • The Child Care Corps would create 100,000 jobs in early childhood care and education through additional funding for Early Head Start.
  • The Community Corps would hire 750,000 individuals to do needed work in our communities, including housing rehab, weatherization, recycling, and rural conservation.
To be fair, Obama could have done worse at his factory tour photo op.  At least he didn't sweat profusely, get heckled and admit right out loud that "corporations are people, my friend" like Mitt Romney did in Iowa. Republicans also like to claim that corporations and tax-avoiding big businesses are job creators. But the only Jobs they're creating are of the fire and brimstone, sadistic Old Testament variety:
A Vision of Austerity (William Blake)


Denis Neville said...

Job “creators” and “Jobs”…Our systemic failure as a nation...unlearned lessons of history

“The best historians have noticed that in each major phase of the development of capitalism, the leading country of the capitalist world goes through a period of financialization, wherein the most important economic dynamic is the creation and trading of abstract financial instruments rather than the production of genuine goods and services…Historically, the financialization of society has always been a symbol that a nation’s economic position has entered a phase of deterioration.” William Wolman and Anne Colamosca, The Judas Economy

Spain was the world’s first major Judas Economy.

“This vast commercial enterprise had the outward form of an empire dominated by Spain. Viewed from the inside, however, it was a structure in which the essential arteries were controlled by non-Spaniards.” – Henry Kamen, Empire

“Our people are without sustenance and income, the foreigners are rich; and Spain, instead of being a mother to her sons has ended up as a foster mother, enriching outsiders and neglecting her own,” complained Spanish merchants in 1627.

“Money is not true wealth. Spain’s future is being dissipated on thin air - on papers, contracts, loans, and letters of exchange…instead of being expended on things that yield profits and attract riches from the outside to augment the riches from within.” - Gonzalez de Cellorigo, 17th century Spanish economist and reformer

And like Spain in its day, the United States has the “mother-of- all” rentier cultures and a Judas Economy. The financialization of our economy and our debt-and-credit industrial complex have decayed the very soul of America…“Job creators” creating only “Jobs.”

The lesson of history is that we do not learn the lessons of history.

Denis Neville said...

How Job “Creators” create “Jobs”

Most Americans do not have even an elementary knowledge of economics much less an understanding of our government’s budget and debt.

Peter Dorman at EconoSpeak/Annals of the Economically Incorrect asks, “Whose Responsibility Is it that the Public Doesn’t Understand Public Finance?”

“Economists have collectively taken little responsibility for public education. I know of no attempts to identify the critical gaps in the public’s understanding of economics in order to mobilize a response. There is no systematic attempt to address economic illiteracy.”

“There is a deep cognitive dimension to economic illiteracy. The term “national debt” is perceived by most people to be ominous and threatening, especially when numbers in the trillions are thrown around. They think governments are like households, going on consumption binges and waking up to debt bondage. In other words, they have a one-way view of causation, beginning with one’s own economic choices and leading to debt, and cannot see the other, from debt choices made by the government back to the economy, since each individual household’s insertion into the economy (their frame of reference) has only the first dimension. In addition, they see their own debts only from the liability side and not from the asset side. In other words, they are applying a personal, household template to the systemic terrain that economics is supposed to illuminate. A defective frame can be countered only by a better one: we need a coordinated effort to popularize a framework for visualizing the economy that is also based on us as a community, not just me as an atom.”

“There is no functioning incentive in the media (print and electronic) from which most people get their information to be factually correct. Hence there is a vast amount of misinformation out there.”

“The first three of these causal factors are exploited and amplified by a wealthy and politically powerful business-conservative coalition. They bankroll media that cynically make stuff up, and where none exist they create them. They reward economists who twist evidence and invent fanciful models that just happen to justify misinformation and cognitive errors regarding the real-world economy. And of course they make constant reference to images and framing devices that reinforce the inability of the public to think clearly about economic choices. Their political strategy is predicated on mass ignorance and error, so any movement for rationality and honesty has to be political as well.”

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks for your input, wealth of literary allusions, links and history. Disinformation is the enemy. As Dylan Ratigan said, our best recourse is to educate our relatives (there is at least one Fox viewer/Limbaugh fan in every family) and neighbors. People know they are screwed, they just don't know why and by whom. Not that many people even read. But most people will welcome a friendly conversation and lots of commiseration.

4Runner said...

Dear Karen, we are spending some time up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, staying in a friend's solar-powered A-frame. We are a stone's throw away from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a living memorial of the New Deal. Out hiking today, we ran across a historical marker which mentioned that construction of the Parkway began in the depths of the Great Depression in 1935 and created thousands of jobs involving the WPA and CCC. Starting pay was 30 cents/hr over a 6-day work week, and I'll bet that workers were thrilled (1) to be employed and (2) to be part of a such an inspired project. But that was then and this is now-- with no-how Nobama.

Karen Garcia said...

The CCC was made up mainly of young people (equivalent of our lost Millennials). Since they were provided with room and board, they were actually able in many cases to send money home to their families. The families didn't have to worry about that extra mouth to feed.

Our public officials are a true embarrassment.
I was watching Dennis Kucinich being interviewed tonight and he said Obama was doing nothing out of pure stubbornness. One more reason he is like Bush.... he stays the course, no matter what.

Enjoy the Blue Ridge mountains.... what a lovely place.. Great Smokies area was a CCC zone too.

Kat said...

I do a lot of hiking too and I'm always amazed at what the CCC accomplished. What could have been in the wake of the great financial meltdown of 2008! Obama could have used his bully pulpit to harness some of the outrage and build support for public works programs. It is not as if investment in infrastructure would have been a "make work" program. Our infrastructure is in dire need of repair.

Anne Lavoie said...

Obama says he is not asking Congress to return to Washington because he says they should be talking to real people in the heartland like he is, not political bickering in D.C. Yeah, right.

The real reason Obama does not want to call Congress back to Washington is because if they go back, he'll have to stay there also, ruining his fundraising circuit, re-election campaigning, and jeopardizing his plans for golfing and vacationing at Martha's Vineyard.

He's not just duplicitous, self-centered, subservient to the rich and uncaring. He's also downright lazy. He wants everyone else to do all the work under almost every circumstance I can think of. He is The King.

John in Lafayette said...

The mention of the Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful relminder of the things the government can and should do for us. Krugman's most recent column points this out, too.

Spent a month two summers ago touring the Southern US and drove both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Natchez Trace Parkway in search of beautiful scenery and great barbecue. I found both in abundance (yum!). I also met a lot of wonderful people. Forgive me if I sound jingoistic, but the whole experience made me feel much more a part of a real American community than I ever could have gotten from flying down the interstate or from getting a pat down at the airport. It was, quite simply, one of the best times of my life.

And our government - at least the government we used to have - made that possible.

Today the legacy that past generations created for us is being destroyed. Our national parks are falling apart for lack of money. Our sense of community is being destroyed by people who think it's more important to maintain tax cuts for the rich and to fund two wars that long ago outlived their usefulness (if ever they had any) than it is to put people to work.

We don't need, nor should we want, a sense of shared sacrifice. We need a sense of shared commitment. Anyway, the unemployed, the poor, and the middle class have already been sacrificed. We need to get them back working, and that means the "job creators" have to start creating jobs. Since they've demonstrated they won't do it on their own, we need to use the government to make it happen.

The good news for the wealthy is that particular rising tide will really lift all boats. A sacrifice on their part now, in the form of higher taxes, will lead to higher employment and more money in the hands of those who will buy the goods and services the "job creators" produce.

Representative Schakowsky's plan would be a good step in the right direction. I would add a few thousand jobs to shore up bridges, highways, and railroad tracks.

President Obama wanted me to write to my representatives in Congress, and I have. I've told them I want them to get behind the Schakowsky plan and get Americans back to work. And I've written to the President that I expect him to publicly back the plan, as well (although I won't hold my breath waiting for that).

Marina said...

Funny, the NYT doesn't seem to have covered Schakowsky's bill...(fellow commentators, correct me if I'm wrong--I'd love to be wrong on this). I almost ripped the paper in half reading Helene Cooper's disgusting "news" article day before yesterday about how Obama would have to take the courageous step to cut "entitlements.' Cooper is to the War on the Middle and Lower Classes as Judy Miller was to the War on Terror...

I'm starting to get worried about a Perry/Palin presidency...

Anne Lavoie said...

Enjoy your national parks and trails while you can. Over at least the past 14 years there has been a strategic assault on our public lands by a coalition of businessmen in the recreation industry called the American Recreation Coalition. They have been lobbying Congress for the commercialization, motorization, and industrialization of our public lands, and they have a solid record of successes under both Republican and Democratic Presidents and Congresses. Privatization is their ultimate goal. Step by step, they are getting there.

Both sides of the political aisle have gone along. When they weren't trying to starve the beast by cutting the budget for public lands even in times of surplus, they were attaching riders to appropriations bills during the dead of night, turning public lands into profits centers for private interests.

Bend, Oregon's Scott Silver, of, has been fighting this battle for a long time, often a literal lonely voice in the wilderness, crying out that our country was being stolen by corporations and privatized, especially our nation's public lands, but few heard him. Even the Sierra Club seemed to go along to get along to simply be allowed a place at the table (with no chair).

Some of us, though, busted our butts to stop this takeover with letter writing, marches, pickets, protests, and Congressional testimony, to no avail. Even Scott seems to have given up after Obama, who seemed to have such promise for us, picked friends of commercialization and privatization for key positions in the Interior Dept.

So when you see the Privatization movement finally reaching Social Security, the Post Office, NASA, and eventually our sacred National Parks themselves, know that there has been a successful track record of converting public assets to corporate ownership by first being contracted out for profit.

Both parties are traitors to America and the nation's parks and lands we so cherish. There is no lesser of two evils in our current political system. There is only the hand of the rich maneuvering their puppets in the grand puppet show we call our federal government.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Harry S Truman, who, like Dylan Ratigan, knew how to give ‘em hell, once lambasted a Do-Nothing Congress. And it worked, to everyone’s surprise. Here and elsewhere lately, I hear people giving Obama the business as the Do-Nothing President. And the noise is building, thanks be.

Once upon a time, we disappointed voters accorded Barack Obama faint praise as The Lesser of Two Evils. It is time for us to recall that wilted laurel. He is, in fact, The Greatest of our Worst Presidents. TLOTE becomes GOOWP.

Denis Neville said...

Next Stop (for the fast moving train, the Catfood Commission II, aka "Super-Committee"): Train Wreck

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout examines its chosen Democratic senators and concludes, “Nothing good will come of this, I fear. A great deal of bad, however, almost certainly will.”

Democratic “liberal” Senators Kerry and Murray earlier this year signed a letter calling for a "grand bargain" deal that calling for discretionary spending cuts and entitlement changes. Senator Murray solicited campaign cash this summer from the Koch brothers.

“Perhaps more galling than the seemingly evident outcome of this farce is the fact that the whole process flies in the face of Constitutional law. Nowhere in that document does it give Congress the power to supercede the established process of legislating through full committees and sub-committees, and after all is said and done, the whole thing could wind up being thrown out by the courts if a legal challenge is brought against the ‘super-committee's’ final conclusions.”

That is a leap of faith to count on the courts given their recent “track” record.

“The Democratic Party, one of the pillars of the liberal class, has been bought off with corporate money.” - Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class

As Hedges said, “We stand on the verge of one of the bleakest periods in human history, when the bright lights of civilization will blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity.”

Janet Camp said...

My Dad was in the CCC's and he used to point out work done by them as we toured the state and national parks of my beautiful home state of Washington. There are still some of the wonderful stone walls along the highway on Whidbey Island near the Deception Pass bridge, for instance. My Dad told us about sending money home to his Mom and younger sisters after his own Dad died. He felt that the CCC's saved his family. My maternal grandfather also credited Roosevelt and the New Deal with saving his family during the Great Depression. Have any of you ever heard Carl Reiner (the comedian and writer) speak about how the New Deal even included work for artists of all kinds? I heard him speak movingly of this when he accepted the Mark Twain Comedy (Humor?) Prize--it's televised annually on PBS.

Roosevelt made my grandparents and parents solid Democrats and they made me a solid Democrat, but I think they'd be alarmed at a Democratic president who wants to "reform" so-called "entitlements" (which has now become the latest pejorative "leftist" term) that brought this country out of despair into the American Dream (no, I'm not forgetting WWII).

I'm not going to start down the path of calling Obama any disingenuous names. I'm not happy with the way he seems to be letting his handlers run things and I've been unhappy with most of his appointments from the beginning, but I refuse to start sounding like I've gone so far Left that I ran into the Right. I think "lazy", et al is going too far. You don't get gray hair in two years from not working hard under stressful conditions. I can turn on Fox if I want to hear that kind of stuff. Criticism is fair enough; anger is justified, protest needs to be loud, but leave name-calling in the school yard--it's bad enough it exists there!

Valerie said...

In all fairness, Janet, I don't hear a lot of name calling that is undeserved. Obama IS a sellout and he has betrayed the people who voted for him. He has basically finished what Bush/Cheney started and is due for some brutal criticism. I think the readership and commentariat is quite civil on this blog and are just calling it the way we see it - and using a little satire for effect. Molly Ivans always said, "Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful." Comparing the comments here to what you would hear on FOX is hardly fair or accurate.

Democrats have been too "civil" for too long and quite frankly, what has it gotten us? It is time we speak our minds and the louder the better.

And the left in this country (and on this blog) has got to go miles and miles before it starts running into the right.

Marie Burns said...

Excellent post, excellent comments. One of my biggest gripes about MSM "journalism" and the Washington punditocracy is their insistence on "even-handedness" which they think means "objective" but which they invariably translate to "both sides do it."

Friday Matt Bai of the New York Times wrote a column complaining ( that the Republican presidential candidates were intransigent about raising revenue. He then wrote "some Democrats" would be just as stubborn about Social Security. Right. Both sides do it. And raising revenues to pay the bills is the same as gutting Social Security. When Bai couldn't find an example of Democratic intransigence to "balance" his criticism of Republicans, he just made one up. (Numerous commenters called out Bai's laughable false equivalency.)

Well, ya know who's the worst both-sides-do-it Washington pundit of them all? Our Pundit in Chief Barack Obama. If you listened to or read Obama's Batteries-Will-Save-Us Speech No. 137, you won't find him mentioning Republicans or the Tea Party even once. Not once. Instead he complains about Washington "partisan brinkmanship," "gridlock," "politics," an unwillingness to compromise, "some folks in Washington," and "political games." Now, you and I know he's talking about the Republican Tea Party. But the average factory worker there at Johnson Controls has no idea. Obama blames "Congress" (tho he does give Sen. Carl Levin a shout-out inasmuch as Levin is in the room). He's saying flat-out that all of Congress is the enemy of the good. Or the enemy of the President, "good" and "President" being interchangeable. If you were the average know-nothing voter, you'd think Jan Schakowsky was just as bad as Michele Bachmann.

Oh, and that patent law Obama is touting as a jobs creator? According to several articles I read (and which I can't find now -- sorry) there's nothing in it for the ordinary American, much less for the lonely inventor. The lobbying effort behind it, and therefore the bill itself, is all about which types of corporations will end up the winners. And the winners will be -- big multinational corporations. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Anne Lavoie said...


I would like to defend myself here and clarify a few things. You have the opinion that using the word 'lazy' is name-calling, akin to schoolyard bullying and right-wing websites. I beg to differ. Anyway, look up sardonic, as in Sardonicky. You might be expecting something from this site that it isn't.

Not so long ago there was a reference to 'making threats' by another commenter, whom you know well, in response to one of my posts. At the time, you chimed in and said 'bring it on', we can take a hit' in defense of your man in the White House. I reread all the comments, and there was no threat made by anyone. Seeing threats where there are none has does have a name, but to me it appeared to be simply an attempt to silence dissent about Obama. Here we go again!

In regard to aging, it's natural for a lot of people to go gray as they age, especially as they experience life's stresses. It's a stressful time for more than just the President! It doesn't take 'working hard' to give you gray hairs. NOT WORKING can do the same thing.

Try looking around at all the people losing their homes, jobs, savings. The President knocked himself out to get that job and his future is now financially secure forever, but homeless and unemployed people didn't go looking to live on the street and lose their life savings with no hope of ever recovering it. And they can't go jetting off on vacations either.

Who is the one who is under greater stress, and POWERLESS to do anything about it? And who is living like royalty, has a secure future financially, yet is NOT EVEN using his sonorous and eloquent voice for the poor and downtrodden??? Oh, I could have used a harsher word than lazy, trust me. I don't think I was out of bounds at all.

Fasten your seatbelt, you're in for a bumpy ride!

Debra Lozon said...

I applaud the smart comments here. I do not think they are one bit out of line. Obama has not used the power of the presidency to ramrod projects that will help restore our country's vibrancy, that is getting more people economically viable again.

I'm disheartened by all of this. I've been unemployed for almost three years now. I apply to every job I can, with literally few responses. Now, to make matters even worse, My apartment building is being "renovated" and everyone is being forced to move by September 30th.

So now with no job and soon no place to live, my life is in limbo and we have the President, who I voted for with confidence that he'd do right to straighten out the wrongs in this country, saying we need to tighten our belts. If I tighten my belt anymore, I won't be able to breathe.

So keep up the criticism. It does my heart good to read them. I only with one other person would read them too. And we all know who that is.
Debra Lozon, Seattle