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Why Obama Won’t Go Big Tonight

Let’s get something straight before President Pangloss delivers his speech tonight. Two-thirds of the $300 billion “stimulus package” he’ll be asking for (to reduce unemployment) is just an extension of programs that are already in place, like the payroll tax cut and extension of unemployment benefits.

So, what Obama would characterize as a “bold attack on joblessness” is just a big nothingburger, just old wine in new bottles. The plan has no oomph at all; it won’t put a dent in unemployment nor will it revive the flagging economy which is presently skittering towards another recession.

So why is the White House wasting our time with this nonsense? Do they really think that Obama is going to get a bump in the ratings just by waving his hand at the horizon and mouthing the same old platitudes? 

Don’t count on it. Recent surveys show that Obama’s approval ratings have hit the skids bigtime while those of his Confederate-Theocratic rival, Perry, continue to rise. It will take a miracle for Obama to squeak-by in 2012, especially now, with the recovery in a shambles. This is from the Wall Street Journal:

“Macroeconomic Advisers projects that extending the tax cut for another year would increase U.S. employment by 400,000 jobs next year and add half a percentage point to the pace of economic growth, at a cost about $120 billion.” (“Payroll Tax Cut Won’t Be Easy Sell”, Wall Street Journal) 

Okay, so Obama’s plan will put 400,000 people back to work. Big deal. That’s the number of jobless claims that are presently being filed every week. And–guess what–that number is not only rising, but will rise higher-still when the economy drops dead from lack of demand. And the reason demand is weak, is because wages are frozen and too many people can’t find a damn job. It’s inexcusable that a Democratic president would refuse to lift a finger to help the 25 million people who–through no fault of their own–can’t find work. Instead, Obama is focused laserlike on the budget deficits. 

Who cares about the deficits? It’s crazy to worry about the deficits when the economy is circling the plughole. But belt-tightening is all that Obama can talk about. It’s become an obsession. Take a look at this from the Washington Post:

“Getting less attention in the media is the follow-up speech the White House is planning, which will lay out a specific deficit-reduction agenda that not only meets the $1.5 trillion goal of the “supercommittee,” but exceeds it and pays for the new jobs spending. These proposals will look quite similar to the grand bargain the White House offered Speaker John Boehner, and liberal groups are grimly preparing for the administration to call for raising the Medicare eligibility age.” (“The White House’s two priorities”, Washington Post)

Get it? So whatever concessions Obama makes to working people tonight, he plans to take back next week. And they used to call Clinton “slick”. Obama’s got him beat by a mile. 

So what would Obama supporters like to hear tonight if they had their druthers? Would they like to hear more about how “government needs to live within its means” or do they want to hear about the concrete steps that Obama is taking to put people back to work and put the economy back on track? (Did someone say “WPA”?)

Look, all Obama needs to whoop-the-tar out of crackpot Perry in 2012, is just to be the guy that everyone thought they were voting for in 2008. That’s all. No more kowtowing to Wall Street, no more pandering to the GOP, no more bipartisan claptrap. Just focus on three things: “Jobs, jobs, and jobs”. That’s the ticket for a landslide victory and the admiration of 300 million working Americans.

So, here’s what I’d like to hear Obama say tonight. It’s a clip from a speech by FDR:

“I stand or fall by my refusal to accept as a necessary condition of our future a permanent army of unemployed. On the contrary, we must make it a national principle that we will not tolerate a large army of unemployed and that we will arrange our national economy to end our present unemployment as soon as we can and then to take wise measures against its return.”

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

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MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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