President Obama invoked the heroes of the past and delivered a passionate defence of State investment in his Jobs Act speech overnight, reports Shamik Das.
President Obama invoked the heroes of the past and delivered a passionate defence of State investment in his Jobs Act speech last night. He called on Congress to “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy”, and urged the watching public to “tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option”.
Calling for Congress to unite for the good of the American people, he said every proposal he’d laid out “is the kind that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past”, admitting that he didn’t “pretend that this plan will solve all our problems”, that what’s guided him “hasn’t been the search for a silver bullet”, but a commitment to “keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it”.
He reserved his greatest scorn, however, for the forces of small-Statism, the Tea Partyites who criticise almost all State spending, reminding his audience that they achieve more when Americans work together than alone, that State spending drives growth and builds nations:
“…this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own – that’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America.
“Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world. But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
“We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilised government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges. And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.
“Ask yourselves – where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams and our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges? Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the GI Bill. Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance?
“How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result?”
Earlier, highlighting the impact the Jobs Act would have, and the positive benefits for all Americans that will ensue, he said:
“Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America. Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most congested in the world.
“This is inexcusable. Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?
“There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America. A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country. And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating.
“How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now.”
And with a final nod to history, he concluded:
“President Kennedy once said: ‘Our problems are man-made – therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.’
“These are difficult years for our country. But we are Americans. We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.”
We will have more on the President’s speech and the latest news from the Presidential race on Left Foot Forward tonight in Look Left.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.