Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unconstructive Criticism

Conservatives and critics of President Obama have slammed the administration’s handling of almost every major issue confronting our nation. Many of these critics are prematurely making judgments, and in most cases, failing to look at the facts.

GOP leaders claim the president has “neglected” to focus on job creation. In their opinions, the most effective way to create jobs is through tax cuts for the wealthy. The Obama administration, however, has focused on stimulus and spending to create jobs. This approach proves to be a more sustainable solution.

When Obama took office in January 2009, over 700,000 Americans lost their jobs (a direct result of the previous administration’s failures; and the biggest rate of job loss since Obama took over). To provide immediate relief and jump start our economy, he passed a $787 billion stimulus package that allocated much needed spending to improve our infrastructure, which creates better long-term employment; gave tax cuts and lending approvals to small businesses, which employ half of America's working population; and has now proved to have saved or created about 3 million jobs.

In addition, Obama has extended unemployment benefits for the 9.5% unemployment rate we currently face (which is down from a 10% rate just a few months ago). Just as a tax cut puts more money in the pockets of the wealthy, unemployment insurance puts more money in an unemployed person's pocket. The difference is that the unemployed person is likelier to spend that money, which will generate more taxable economic activity than if that money is saved.

Conservatives also argue that unemployment payments are a disincentive to taking a new job, as many will become lazy and unmotivated to find a job. But let me ask you this: Could you live on less than $300 a week? If the average unemployment check in the U.S. is $293, how could any person make their mortgage payments, their car payments, and feed their family? If a majority of your unemployment insurance check is paying for the rising costs of healthcare, is it realistic to expect you will still have money left for food and rent and utilities and other necessities? The answer is you cannot.

It seems as if many on the right are either insensitive to this fact or they are simply out of touch with reality. It seems as if they are only making political calculations, and not considering the human calculations.

Third, and more recently, Obama has decided to tackle Wall Street and end an era of irresponsibility that led to the “loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth. This reform is good for families; it's good for businesses; it's good for the entire economy." With more accountability and transparency for the financial sector, the measure will only help us in the future.

Unlike President Bush, who inherited a $230 billion surplus when he took office, President Obama inherited a $1.4 trillion deficit, along with 2 wars and a failing economy. Taking this into major consideration, Obama has done extraordinary to prevent another Great Depression. Although our situation is bad, it would have been much worse if the administration had not taken such actions. The only way he can do more is if he stops trying to reach over the isle to find bipartisan support and focuses strictly on his liberal base, an argument that many Democrats have been proposing.

Yes we need to hold our leaders at a higher standard, and yes opposition is always needed to improve any solution. Republicans have tried their solutions for the last 8years and could not meet the situation. GOP leaders now need to focus on constructive criticism rather than being a party that out-rightly rejects any solution Obama offers, promotes unprofessional conduct, allows racism to flourish, and advocates that our leader fails at every possible turn.

We need real debate, not political games. That is how we, as a country, can progress.

1 comment:

  1. Even while being an obsessive Barack Obama supporter, there are a few key points that I can think of which may account for how this "unconstructive criticism" has actually managed to fool the American people up to date(as evidenced by the President's poll numbers).

    Unfortunately, for too long, Republican propaganda regarding the President has been growing and festering in the minds of multitudes of Americans. I have personally seen many of my fellow Democrat Obama supporters that have become far less enthusiastic about the cause. These people can be seen on all sides of the spectrum, including those who are "left of Obama," "in line with Obama," and of course, those to the "right of Obama."

    I think issue number 1 is communications. Even by his own admission (he stated something to this effect in an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos right after his first year in office), President Obama has failed to effectively manage his communications strategy. He has never been able to control the story, so the Republicans and media hounds quickly jump onto it and write their own version of what happened. Take a look at the last year and a half. Many Americans remember two things about the early months -- big bailouts for banks and an $800bn stimulus package that garnered few bipartisan votes. Healthcare -- an extremely long-winded process that resulted in a bill that still no one fully understands! Wall St. reform was overshadowed by the Gulf crisis, which was compared to Katrina!

    Obviously, you or I do not believe these things, but Democrats can talk all they want, but the complexity of Pres. Obama's communications workshop has gone over the heads of most people. No one quite understands how the pieces of his agenda affect them personally, and before the White House can do an effective job of "selling" the legislation to the American people, they have already moved on to something else. Finally, Obama doesn't come out and counterattack the GOP hard enough until late in the game, and when he does, he describes things in paragraphs and paragraphs while the GOP can say it in a sentence. Who has better communications strategy?

    Issue #2 -- lack of clear focus with the agenda itself. The President has been flitting around here and there too much! Granted, he inherited many large problems, but I think he was elected on a mandate for change that was especially focused on the economy. He has not expended enough of his political capital on that issue (or if he has, the communications team has failed to make that clear to the country). When I ask former Obama supporters why they've jumped ship, they ask me: "What has he done??" and I respond: "What hasn't he done?" I hear back: "That's exactly the problem. He's tackled anything and everything, and I don't see what he has done to save my job. Unemployment is still high, economic projections aren't as good as they could have been, and what about the national debt? It's skyrocketing from all this spending." Obviously, these folks aren't offering him enough credit, but that's the reality of how many see it.

    Finally, issue #3 -- in terms of the legislation itself, he's done a good job, but too many things have gotten watered down, including health care reform, Wall St. reform, etc. He has not been able to stand up to the Republicans the way a true leader should. It's amazing that he has managed to push through such major reform bills, but each of them is only about 2/3 of what we really need for change in this country.

    In the end, I am disappointed that so many Americans have lost hope in a president that has done so much to fix problems in so little time. But even as a loyal supporter, one has to analyze the shortcomings of our own side to see what we can do to improve past midterms. I think those core issues are Communications, Clear Agenda Prioritization, and improving the legislation itself by really standing up to the GOP.


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