By Laurence D. Schiller
Today, President Obama came to Kellogg at Northwestern to deliver an address on the economy. Since I work at NU, I went down to see all the excitement, but wasn’t one of the invited guests, so I had to watch the speech on the White House web site (http://www.whitehouse.gov/live/president-obama-speaks-economy?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=email376-text1&utm_campaign=economy). The excitement amongst the student body was wonderful. If you didn’t see it, you should. It was a brilliant speech delivered at one of the best business schools in America. The President didn’t deliver a political speech (although it was nonetheless political as all speeches must be), but a speech clearly setting out what he and the Democrats have accomplished in resuscitating the American economy from the near collapse caused by the Robber Barons of Wall Street and their GOP obstructionist allies. Moreover, he delivered it at Kellogg and challenged our business leaders to tell him his facts were wrong. Indeed, Obama laid out the FACTS that America has gone from losing 800,000 jobs a month to gaining 200,000 a month. That unemployment has dropped from 10% to 6/1%. That 10 million jobs have been created under his watch and that health care costs have gone down, energy dependence on foreign oil down, the stock market doubled, and all in the face of the GOP who look at government as anathema to business. But, the TRUTH is that the deficit has been halved and that the ACA or Obamacare, is working. Horrors for Republicans who, like Bob Dold, have run from that TRUTH and can’t bear to admit that he was, and continues to be, completely wrong on his economic policies, and most especially on the Affordable Care Act.
To me the key to the speech was not just how the economic policies of the President have been working to create a boom in American manufacturing and job creation, but that the VISION of the Democratic Party is to continue to work for fairness in the economy. While the GOP pleads for more tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% who have already garnered the overwhelming percentage of gain in the economy, Democrats such as Brad Schneider echo the Presidents assertion that the economy must work for every single American. I’ll let you listen to the speech for the details, but this again points out what I said in the last blog, that the GOP fronts for the Robber Barons trying to tear down the New Deal, while the Democrats have fought to restore and protect it. The truth is that Reagan’s ‘trickle down’ economics do not and never have worked. The President challenged Kellogg to produce any study that would show that it does, knowing that there aren’t any. Bruce Rauner, who wants to do away with the minimum wage ought to read the studies showing how in states and cities that have raised the minimum wage have seen a boost in the economy, not the reverse. For me, ultimately, the speech absolutely defined the difference between the parties. The GOP doesn’t even have an economic plan. All they do is obstruct. When Bob Dold was in Washington, I asked him what his alternative to the ACA was, and his response was a pablum of thanks for writing but, to paraphrase, I really don’t have any ideas for health care except to keep the current system.
The President was electric today and absolutely destroyed his critics by just stating the facts. I’m just waiting for the GOP to offer any solution at all. That is the difference between the parties. They haven’t yet, so I guess I won’t hold my breath.