(Analysis.) In his inauguration speech, President Obama made this appeal:x50
[T]he time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history …”
But when a child clings to childish ways, an adult should be firm. In a news conference last week, Obama addressed some of the childish arguments he heard during debate on his jobs bill.x51 For instance, he addressed Republican rewriting of the history of the New Deal:
Now, you have some people, very sincere, who philosophically just think the government has no business interfering in the marketplace. And, in fact, there are several who’ve suggested that FDR was wrong to interfere back in the New Deal. They’re fighting battles that I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago. Most economists, almost unanimously, recognize that, … when you have the kind of problem we have right now, … that government is an important element of introducing some additional demand into the economy.
Obama also addressed Republican stubbornness in sticking with trickle-down economics, and opposition to oversight of corporations:
I’m happy to get good ideas from across the political spectrum, from Democrats and Republicans. What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested, and they have failed.
And he addressed Republican cries of “pork!”:
What I’ve been concerned about is some of the language that’s been used suggesting that this is full of pork and this is wasteful government spending, so on and so forth.
First of all, when I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then, you know, I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history. I inherited the deficit that we have right now and the economic crisis that we have right now.
But when they start characterizing this as pork, without acknowledging that there are no earmarks in this package — something, again, that was pretty rare over the last eight years — then you get a feeling that maybe we’re playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.
An adult should also be patient, and give a child the leeway for and example of good behavior. Obama wrapped-up the news conference by saying:
But I am the eternal optimist. I think that, over time, people respond to civility and — and rational argument. I think that’s what … the people around America are looking for. And … that’s the kind of leadership I’m going to try to provide.
Still, when a child given such leeway gets destructive, an adult should reel that child in. Right from the start, Obama put a big chunk of tax cuts favored by Republicans into his jobs bill, and hoped to get more than 20 Republican votes for the bill in the Senate.x52 Instead, only three Republicans voted for the bill, and only after they threatened to filibuster (an action meant for extraordinary circumstance only), and got some items they didn’t like removed.x53 So the jobs bill passed without school construction funding and the 400,000 jobs it would have brought, and without federal employee whistleblower protection and the guard against money being wasted that it would have brought.x54x55 When asked how he would get Republican cooperation in the future, Obama answered:
I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them, and maybe that’s the lesson I learned. But there was consultation [with Republicans]; there will continue to be consultation.
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