Obama remains detached from reality
President Obama considers himself an excellent judge of his own speeches, something worth remembering in advance of Wednesday’s newest economic-policy address at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.Obama can give a lot of speeches, but he can't seem to govern. He also can't comprehend just what a failure liberalism has been in places like Detroit and other blue states. Liberals are desperately clinging to big government and big spending policies. But realty keeps invading and the red staes are showing the way to prosperity.
Here is Obama on Obama at a gathering Monday night of Organizing for America staff and volunteers: “As we’ve learned, I’ve given some pretty good speeches before. And then things still get stuck here in Washington, which is why I’m going to need your help.”
I don’t know if Obama considers his 2011 Labor Day speech in Detroit “pretty good,” but it is, at minimum, illustrative of the gap between rhetoric and reality there and in other parts of the nation.
Obama was on the verge of launching a new conversation on the economy then, just as he is now. The refrain then might sound familiar today:
“We’re going to lay out a new way forward on jobs to grow the economy and put more Americans back to work right now,” Obama said in Detroit in 2011. “I don’t want to give everything away right here because I want you all to tune in.”
This was in advance of the American Jobs Act that Obama sent to Congress. It followed by one month Obama’s efforts to boost employment in rural areas and among post-9/11 veterans. As has beennoted, Obama’s had no shortage of rhetorical slogans for his economic initiatives, the most recent being “Winning the Future,” “We Can’t Wait,” and the “Middle-Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.”
Obama promises Wednesday’s speech will also be “pretty good.” But in light of Detroit’s tragic bankruptcy filing, it is worth recalling his 2011 Labor Day speech. Its buoyancy and optimism, though well-intended, could make even the most ardent Obama devotee wince. Rereading it now might even provoke pity among his toughest critics.
First, Obama quoted a speech by President Truman in Detroit in 1948, extolling the virtues of higher wages paid to autoworkers due to collective bargaining. “The gains of labor were not accomplished at the expense of the rest of the nation. Labor’s gains contributed to the nation’s general prosperity.” Truman referred to Depression-era reforms such as the Wagner Act that guaranteed collective bargaining as well as laws that shuttered sweatshops, raised the minimum hourly wage from 45 cents to $1.33, slowed home foreclosures, provided jobless benefits, and created Social Security. That was back when Detroit was home to more than 1.8 million residents (there are about 685,000 now) and auto factories paid solid wages and offered health and pension benefits.
By the time Ronald Reagan accepted the GOP nomination in Detroit in 1980 (yes, the last major political party to hold a national convention in Detroit was the GOP), assembly-line jobs were disappearing, and many residents turned to work for the city as cops, firefighters, court reporters, librarians, and clerks. Blacks fought hard for these jobs and with union clout secured health benefits and pensions. This year, public-sector jobs number 40,000, while GM and Fiat-Chrysler, even after the federal bailout, employ about 4,000 each. Detroit's public-sector pensions are not extravagant, averaging about $19,000 per year—though some of the best-compensated pensioners receive more than $90,000.