Saturday, July 31, 2010

Do Your Jobs

As yet more proof that his economic policies are working, President Obama recently highlighted his success with the auto industry and pressed for passage of the Small Business Jobs Act, a measure which Senate Republicans are blocking.

First and foremost, Republicans should not criticize the President for not creating jobs, as they were the folks that adamantly opposed the auto industry bailout. Today, however, that very action taken by Democrats not only saved and created a lot of jobs, but it saved an entire industry.

In the year prior to Obama’s administration, American auto companies were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs. However, instead of making political calculations and shying away from the problem, Obama decided to invest in American businesses and save them from bankruptcy. Now, for the first time since 2004, GM, Ford, and Chrysler are making profits and creating thousands of jobs in communities, such as Detroit, which desperately need them. If Obama had not stepped in and taken such measures, many analysts claim at least one million more Americans would have lost their jobs.

Not only did Obama save and create jobs on American shores, but he also maintained American competitiveness in the world. Allowing the industry to fail would have cost the government billions of dollars in lost tax revenues and millions of out-of-work employees. Our companies cannot compete on a global level if this is the situation.

For this very reason, the President has also emphasized the need to create a $30 billion government fund to help open up lending for credit-starved small businesses. It’s these small businesses which create a majority of all new jobs in America, and it’s these small businesses which need our help. Therefore, the proposed bill would give additional tax breaks and badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business owners so they can grow and hire, and yes, create more jobs!

However, time and time again, Republicans are using parliamentary procedures to block it from even coming up for a vote in the Senate. It seems to me that they do not care about the welfare of our nation, but instead, for garnering as many political points as possible. They have done everything in their power to stop Obama at every turn because, simply put, they want him to fail. They want to show the American people that the Democratic Party is not fit to lead. They want to enter the November elections and tell the American people, “I told you so.”

But how much more pain and suffering are they willing to cause the American people before they realize you cannot win an election as a party of “NO”? You cannot gain the trust of the voters if you have failed to offer any real solutions, make false accusations of noteworthy proposals, increase hatred for your opponents, and hope for the leader of your own nation to fail. It does not create a “more perfect union”, and it certainly does not help win elections.

So, while GOP leaders wait for Obama’s next “waterloo”, the administration will continue fighting for Americans by doing the one thing Democrats are best at:
doing their jobs.

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.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Liberty and Justice for All?

Since the early days of kindergarten, children in the United States have learned to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. However, until recently, I could not truly appreciate the meaning behind the words “with liberty and justice for all”. What made me understand these words more clearly was not my love and passion for this country, but President Obama’s decision to file a lawsuit against Arizona’s new immigration law this past Tuesday.

The new law, which would order immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally, is not only unjust, but is also unconstitutional.

I completely understand the need for stricter immigration reform. I am in full support of our American workers and those that obey the laws, and agree that people who break our laws should be punished. But at what cost?

We need to ensure that we, first and foremost, uphold our American values of equality, liberty, and justice for all. America is a nation comprised of immigrants. We pride ourselves on our multiculturalism, yet we decide to act in ways that prohibit and restrict those very ideals we preach throughout the world. The new law invites racial profiling against people of color by law enforcement, thus harming people’s civil rights and opening doors to police harassment of U.S. citizens and foreigners. If you do not think this new law would invite such hardships, ask yourself this question: How would you determine who looks like an “illegal immigrant?” Chances are you’re not thinking of a white male. Where’s the justice in this?

Not to mention that Arizona’s new law unconstitutionally interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters. Enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility, not a state’s. Immigration law, policy, and enforcement priorities are affected by and have impacts on U.S. foreign policy, and are themselves the subject of diplomatic arrangements. For the same reason we do not allow states to have their own foreign policies, we should not allow states to conduct their own immigration laws.

Some opponents are making it a point to emphasize the fact that a majority of Arizona’s residents actually support the new law. However, the fact that a majority of people support it does not make it just. If the civil rights movement was based on popularity, then surely it would not have been passed, and we would be living in a very different America.

And for those that argue we should simply put the illegal immigrants on a boat and deport them, consider this-we have over 11 million undocumented and illegal workers living in the country. It is unrealistic and unfeasible to ask them all to leave. Instead, as Obama and other democrats have argued, create a legal pathway to citizenship. They will still have to pay a fine, learn English, and wait at the back of the line for those that apply for citizenship legally, but will provide us with greater prosperity. Just imagine adding over 11 million new workers who pay taxes and add to our economic well-being.

Republicans these days are sounding much like those very same people who persecuted, racially profiled, and drove out the Jewish people in Eastern Europe a little more than a century ago- “foreigners must carry identification cards with them at all times, and if not, they should all be forced to leave the country.” This is not the America I was taught about in school. This is not the America I want to leave for my children and grandchildren. This is not the America that preaches “liberty and justice for all”.

And as Obama mentioned in his speech at American University last week, we should all remember the words written by Emma Lazarus in describing our Statue of Liberty:

“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand,” she wrote,

A mighty woman with a torch…
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome…
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”…
“Give me your tired, and your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free…
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”