Jewish World Review April 15, 2011 11 Nissan, 5771
Obama to Soak Rich and Please Dems
By Roger Simon
Instead, it turned out to be a speech in which the president told liberals he still shared their goals and Democrats he was still one of them.
Liberals have been worried about Obama for quite some time. In the past, he gave up on a single-payer health care system and agreed to continue tax breaks for the wealthy.
And as for Democrats as a whole, his private polling probably showed him what an Ipsos poll revealed this week: Some 69 percent of Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track, a jump of 5 percentage points since March, and the worst figure of his presidency.
And what caused it? "The drop in Obama's approval rating was largely driven by a sharp downturn in approval from his fellow Democrats, whose support dropped 7 percentage points to 73 percent," the poll stated.
Now 73 percent might sound like a strong number, but when fewer than three out of four Democrats approve of a Democratic president, there could be real trouble on the horizon.
But Wednesday, President Obama sought to soothe, calm and fire up the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party all at the same time.
He pledged to defend Democratic principles while cutting the deficit $4 trillion over the next 12 years. How? Well, largely by soaking the rich, who are going to have to pay more taxes. Which is music to Democratic ears.
"It is a basic reflection of our belief that those who have benefited most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back," Obama said. "To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I'm president, we won't."
Instead, the rich are going to have to get — a little — poorer.
"In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That's who needs to pay less taxes?" Obama said. "That's not right, and it's not going to happen as long as I'm president!"
That line drew the only applause of his approximately 40-minute speech at The George Washington University.
Obama also attacked Republican plans to "privatize" Medicare through a voucher system and turn Medicaid over to the states in a block-grant system.
"I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry," he said. "I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations."
Which is exactly what Democrats wanted to hear. They want to hear a Democratic president say he is going to stand up on his hind legs and fight.
"We cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society," Obama said. "And I refuse to renew them again!"
And the rich aren't even going to mind it that much.
"I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me," Obama said. "They want to give back to the country that's done so much for them. Washington just hasn't asked them to."
Well, Washington is asking them now.
The speech did have facts and figures, of course. Obama spoke of "$2 trillion in spending cuts across the budget. It will lower our interest payments on the debt by $1 trillion. It calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in spending from the tax code."
Do you find numbers as huge as a trillion hard to grasp? I do. So here's some help:
A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.
Suddenly, a trillion is looking a little larger, isn't it?
And according to author David M. Schwartz, if you wanted to count out loud to a trillion — you would have to pronounce some very long numbers along the way — it would take you six trillion seconds, or 190,259 years. So get started.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate