Obama talks long-term economy in Cleveland
Desparately trying to get back in a groove after a rough end to last week, President Barack Obama visited Cleveland, Ohio yesterday where he relaunched his economic message with familar themes and talking points:
Framing his re-election bid as a stark choice between government action to lift the middle class and a return to Republican economic policies that he said had caused a deep, on Thursday called the presidential decision facing Americans a clear-cut one that will determine the long-term trajectory of the economy.
“This November is your chance to render a verdict on the debate over how to grow the economy, how to create good jobs, how to pay down our deficit,” Mr. Obama told enthusiastic supporters at Cuyahoga Community College here. “Your vote will finally determine the path that we take as a nation — not just tomorrow, but for years to come.”
In his remarks, the president acknowledged that divergent views between him and Mr. Romney on how to revive the economy would define the election.
“There is one place I stand in complete agreement with Mr. Romney,” Mr. Obama said. “This election is about our economic future.”
The president offered no new policy prescriptions in his speech, which he instead used to try to regain the offensive by contrasting his agenda with his own detailed account of the Republican alternative. Mr. Obama said the nation was slowly “digging out of a hole that is nine million jobs deep,” and he blamed Republican policies over the previous decade for driving up the deficit and benefiting the rich at the expense of the middle class. He said a Republican victory in November would mean a return to the “theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the top down,” and he called the election “the make-or-break moment for America’s middle class.”
Point by point, the president listed the Bush-era economic and policy choices — embraced by Mr. Romney and Congressional Republicans — that he said had led to the recession of 2008 and 2009: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that was added to the deficit. “I don’t believe that the government is the answer to all of our problems,” Mr. Obama said. But, he said, “what is holding us back is not a lack of big ideas, not a matter of finding the right technical solution.”
“What is holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views between what direction America should take,” Mr. Obama said.
You can tell that Obama and his campaign have taken what James Carville recently said to heart. He’s not focusing on what they’ve done, after all, voters need only look to the news to see that things are not so good in the economy. However, Obama is talking about the economy in perspective of long-term goals.
During the speech, Obama again targeted the tax cuts passed under his predecessor, indicating that, despite warnings from the CBO that failure to extend them would cause another recession, he has no intention of making a deal.
At least one Democrat, Rep. Mark Critiz (D-PA), isn’t buying what Obama is saying. The Hill notes that Critz, in a statement from his campaign, blasted Obama’s talking points, calling on him to start taking the problems with the economic seriously:
“President Obama and others in Washington need to realize that we cannot spend our way to prosperity and that to in order to create jobs, we need to address unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas and enact policies that allow us to take advantage of our vast natural resources such as coal and natural gas in a safe and responsible manner which will lower energy costs and create jobs,” said Critz in a statement in response to Obama’s speech. “Approving the Keystone XL pipeline would be a good first step.”
The statement — which was blasted out by his campaign — shows how toxic Obama is in parts of the Rust Belt, especially in a Republican-leaning district with a high level of steel and coal production in southwestern Pennsylvania. Critz has bucked Obama since he got into office — he has said he would have voted against climate change legislation and Democrats’ healthcare reforms — but this is one of his most public rebukes to date.
My disagreement with Critz on trade aside (I happen to think that free trade is a net-positive for our economy), he has some really good points. Keystone XL would create thousands of jobs, but the Obama Administration stalled on the proposal, despite several years of study showing that the pipeline would have a limited, if any, environmental impact.
The criticism of spending is one that especially needs to be highlighted after Obam criticized the “record deficits” under the Bush Administration. Sure, he’s right, Bush was out of control. But that was because of spending, not tax cuts. Moreover, it’s ridiculous for Obama to criticize Bush for budget deficits when he has, you know, made those deficits seem relatively small in comparison.
Nothing said today is going to matter if the economy is still sluggish come November. That’s when what Obama says to voters will go into one ear and out the other. You can talk about the future all you want, but convincing voters that your plans and policies will work, when they have seen what you’ve done before them, is going to be a tough sell.