It was exciting to hear the president tell it like it is yesterday. After two years of trying to make nice with the interests that were most responsible for the financial collapse and which are responsible even now for the gridlock in Washington that keeps the economy from moving forward, President Obama told America’s middle class that its future is being threatened by the greed and self-interest of some of the wealthiest people in our nation.
The most important part of his speech in Kansas was probably his attack on the “collective amnesia” that allows some people to continue advocating the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the rich, despite their clear history of failure as a spur to job creation. Obama said:
“Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class — things like education and infrastructure, science and technology, Medicare and Social Security.”
The president pointed out the folly of pursuing the same kinds of failed “you’re on your own” economic policies that got us into the worst recession in 75 years. Weak regulation helped cause the Great Recession. Why would anyone expect the same policies to get us out?
“Remember that in those same years, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running Congress, we had weak regulation, we had little oversight, and what did it get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.
We simply cannot return to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.”
Unsurprisingly, the right wing media, led by Fox News, wants to take us right back to the kind of Bushonomics that crashed the economy in 2007. Progressive taxation doesn’t sit well with Fox’s high-income anchors, let alone its billionaire owner, Rupert Murdoch. As our friends at Media Matters document nicely, Fox immediately launched a broadside against the president and the notion of tax fairness, misquoting him when it was convenient, and accusing him of class warfare and socialism.
I support raising the top marginal income tax rate to 45 percent — about half the 91 percent top rate under President Eisenhower. President Obama just wants to restore the top rate to its level under President Clinton – 39 percent. If that makes him a socialist, what was Dwight Eisenhower? Could it be that the Commander in Chief of Allied Forces during World War II and two-term Republican president from Kansas was a socialist and a class warrior? Uh… no.