Let’s go, Obama

Find William Greider’s post-“shellacking” essay, “Obama Without Tears,” at www.thenation.com.

In retrospect, the most telling moment in President Barack Obama’s two years in office was not when Congress passed health-care reform or Wall Street financial regulation, as important as both of those reforms are. The most telling moment was when he fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, because it was the only time, as William Greider points out in The Nation, when he played hardball and actually used his power.

Could it be that our president is too nice?


He needs to get tough.

One of the reasons why the Democrats lost Congress is that the president was unsuccessful at standing up to Republicans and the rabid right and fighting for his party and his vision. He’s a far smarter, better man than George W. Bush. We have no doubt about this. But that’s not all that matters when it comes to exercising power.

Now it looks as if Obama may be preparing to underestimate his own power again. Already he’s signaled a willingness to cave in on certain issues, like extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires.

There is absolutely no reason to do so.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of U.S. income, up from 9 percent in 1976. Of the total increase in American incomes between 1980 and 2005, 80 percent went to the wealthiest 1 percent.

Think of that.

These multimillionaires aren’t spending their money these days; they’re not creating jobs. They can afford to pay more taxes. And the rest of us definitely cannot afford to borrow more money from China and add to the deficit—and the nation’s fiscal uncertainty—so the super rich can stockpile more cash.

Democrats will have a majority in both houses of Congress for a little while longer. There are things they can accomplish, if they and the president are willing to fight. They should bring back the Disclose Act, for one thing. This last election is evidence that voters need to know which corporations, millionaires and special interests are paying for all those attack ads flooding television.

While they’re at it, the Dems can finally end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This isn’t a third-rail issue any longer—even the generals are in favor of it. While they’re at it, they can pass the Dream Act, which would provide a way for illegal immigrants brought here as children to become citizens by attending college or joining the military.

And finally, there’s unemployment.

Its latest extension is scheduled to expire at the end of November.

If President Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress borrow money to give millionaires a break but don’t help the jobless, they will lose all credibility as the party of working people.