Last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama came a bit too little too late… Yes, it was perceived as a good speech in many circles but only because he finally focused on the one thing nagging at the heels of at least 1 out of every 10 Americans… We’re talking about JOBS. It had been along time coming and when you compare that with what has thus far been a disastrous Health Bill which caved into the wanton greed and desires of clowns like Senators Joe Lieberman and Bill Nelson, his speech was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, what was missing, was a discussion of how to help out those who have already been severely damaged by the fleecing of this economy. What was missing was a discussion of how to help those who saw their 401Ks tanked, saw their credit lines cut, saw their credit rating ruined often through no fault of their own. We didn’t hear discussion on how to help those who worked 10, 15 and even 20 years at a job only to find themselves out of work because of downsizing-the result of greedy banks making record profits, giving out billion dollars to top level employees and not helping small businesses get a line of credit to purchase goods and supplies or make payroll. We DID NOT hear conversation on how to help out those people who are part of the working poor and the poor.
I heard President Obama say things like ‘Tax credits‘, and small business loans.. and don’t get me wrong, that’s great if you’re in a position to take advantage of them. But if you spent your last savings on rent and other basic necessities after being laid off and unable to find work or a decent paying job over the past few months, none of these tax breaks do you any good. I was looking for the President to say something like..
1-Renters get a voucher.. landlords get a tax break or some other economic incentive to give tenets a couple of months to save money..
2-Folks who lost their jobs will get paid for job training so they could re-enter a changing job market that requires new technological skill sets. I heard all this talk about Green jobs.. Great, but what exactly is a green job?Installing solar panels? My elderly mom is gonna start installing panels?? Really? If you been working in the office for the past 10 years shuffling papers, you need to get a new skill set.. and that new skill set needs to come not after you get hired, but while you’re looking… Give people some incentive. Help boost their confidence. make them feel useful. Without that, guess, what? You’re gonna have a bunch of out of work, ‘unskilled’ workers who are still in the economic dog-house… All of that compounded by watching uber rich bankers get billion dollar bonuses.
3-There’s been a disproportionate amount of hidden taxes and hidden costs applied to the poor. We saw no break or relief from that. What do I mean? Well, take a city like Oakland where there is high unemployment in many neighborhoods. Last fall the city council seeing the city was strapped for cash, decided to have the police and parking enforcement step up and crack down on any and all vehicle violations. They were encourage to pull up all sorts of antiquated and obscure laws and go after folks to raise money. So all all sorts of folks, especially those in poor neighborhoods found themselves being hit and hit hard. If you were parked in your driveway wrong or on the street at some odd angle or not ‘too far’ from the curb, you saw a hefty ticket being slapped on you. Police officers were zealously handing out tickets for everything ranging from expired tags to not having enough screws on your license plate. Parking officers were combing the streets early in the morning with books and little known rules in hand looking for violators. This of course led to people not coming to shopping centers in oakland where this sort of madness was taking place. Everyone got hurt. If that wasn’t enough the city added to this by raising parking meter rates to a whopping two dollars an hour and expanded the enforcement to 8pm at night. This was a hidden tax that saddled the working poor and poor. We wont even talk about the high bridge tools to go into San Francisco. 4 dollars a pop plus 3 dollar gas is alot when you don’t have.
The final straw was when the city went out and got a machine that reads license plates and checked to see if you had more than 5 tickets, which isn’t hard to have happen in the Bay Area. I got three after the increased enforcement. 5 tickets meant you got your car towed or booted immediately. Lots of poor folks who were choosing between paying for basic necessities and superfluous parking tickets wound up taking what little money they tucked away in December and paying parking fees. Not a good look at all. Very few people could afford to be without a car.
4-We didn’t see the lowering of costs for food or gas prices. In poor neighborhoods prices went up not down, with managers talking about poor people were stealing food so they had to pay for extra security. All of us got hit.
Banking and credit card fees which actually increased especially with outlets that got bailouts. For many who aren’t living on the brink, such things weren’t thought about. It didn’t hit the radar. I had one friend say what’s a few extra dollars to pay during a troubled economy? A whole hell of a lot when you have no money. Last night I needed 20 bucks here in DC and all the withdrawal fees were 3 bucks and none of the stores in the poor neighborhood I’m staying took credit cards.. Thats that hidden tax that poor folks get hit with everyday
5-There was no discussion about the crazy costs of payday loans. Lots of folks in the hood know about this. They need a loan to pay for rent or the electric bill or cable and internet bill (all of which have gone up over the past year) and they wind up paying loan shark type fees in order to get that loan.. Thats another hidden cost.I ran into NAACP ben jealous last night and he said it was an issue that needs to be discussed, cause a lot of poor folks are getting clobbered with this..
6-many of the working poor are saddled with taking care of two or three kids and aging parents. President Obama did not talk about that last year. We didn’t hear any discussion about how the new ‘millienium baby boomers who are facing this new challenge will get relief.. Many in this generation have parents who divorced, didn’t have a home to get equity and very little retirement and savings. They’re too old to work, and not really able to make it. Their kids are looking out after their parents as well as kids. I can tell you first hand, that’s daunting. For example, my sister has spent thousands flying back and forth to Miami, looking in my pops who is not able to work other than odd jobs here and there and has failing health. The cost of putting him in an old age home which he absolutely under no circumstances would ever agree to go to was minimum 3500 bucks a month. Completely unaffordable for two siblings and thats just one parent at the same time he needed to be looked after especially when he got sick. Someone had to do it-That someone was his kids who had to save up money fly to another state and take on an unexpected, new challenge that has no blue print to follow.
I can go on and on about these hidden costs that impact poor and working class people all day. People reading this know what I’m talking about. They also know how political posturing and political pimping has resulted in a nasty stigma being attached to those who can barely make it.. For years we allowed high prices news pundits come on TV and essentially blame folks who are not making ends meet. Sadly many of us have adapted that line of thinking and have gone on to blame themselves for not doing so well, until they hit a brick wall and realized that it’s almost impossible to make it under lots of circumstances.
Yes, President Obama gave a good speech if you were middle class- but coming into 2010 there aren’t a whole lot of folks who are in that category anymore. Sure, many may think they are, but in reality unless you have 3-4 months rent in the bank you can fall back on, a healthy 401K that wasn’t decimated during the bank bailout era and you have health insurance, you are NOT middle class. You’re part of the working poor and at any given moment you can slip away and become part of the permanent ‘poor’ underclass.
Lastly I’ll say this… what I’m afraid is by not addressing poor & working poor..a big part of the economy is served-Prison Industrial complex but thats for another article
That’s Something to ponder
State of the Union: Why Is Obama Still Clinging Bipartisanship?
Obama restated 2008 campaign promises that were not kept during his first year as president. It’s unclear how he can make good on them in 2010 working with Republicans.
January 27, 2010 |By John Nichols
But don’t accuse the president of veering from the course he charted at a point when his term was new, his popularity ratings were high and Americans took seriously all that talk of “hope” and “change.”
Despite the battering he has taken during his first year in the White House, despite suffering a serious drop in his personal approval ratings, despite the frustration and disenchantment that gave the Senate seat from the deep blue state of Massachusetts to the opposition Republicans, Obama used his initial State of the Union address to renew the call for the health care reform initiative that was the primary focus of his difficult first year in office.
“Don’t walk away from reform — not now, not when we are so close,” the president pleaded with the Congress.
“By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Co-pays will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether,” he declared, in the signature line of his speech. “I will not walk away from these Americans. And neither should the people in this chamber.”
The president admitted that he bumbled the push for health reform, even drawing warm laughter when he said: “I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics. But remember this– I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone.”
He also acknowledged that his first year in office was a tough one: “I campaigned on the promise of change — change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change — or at least, that I can deliver it.”
Yet, Obama still did not seem to “get” the politics of the moment.
Speaking at a point when the year-long effort to enact fundamental health-care reforms has stumbled badly — in the face of united Republican opposition, wrangling between House and Senate Democrats and unfocused messaging from the president — Obama made a renewed effort to find the common ground that has eluded almost everyone in Washington.
Remarkably, the president clung to the hope for bipartisanship that was dashed at every turn in 2009 — either with outright rejection by the “party of ‘no’” or, worse yet, via compromises that handed ultimate authority over policy-making to Republican senators who diverted stimulus funding from job creation to tax cuts for the rich and Democrat-In-Name-Only Ben Nelson and Republican-In-Everything-But-Name Joe Lieberman, who forced the Senate to scrap the public option that was needed to challenge the grip of health insurance companies.
“We face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope what they deserve — is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics,” said the president, whose repeated references to bipartisanship made clear that he is not ready to adopt the fighting stance that might rally the Democratic base for a serious fight to use the party’s majorities in the House and Senate to initiate meaningful reforms.
This was not a rally-the-base speech.
It was a speech that, at many turns, sounded as if it was written a year ago — before Obama saw his domestic agenda blocked at so many turns.
It was this tone-deaf quality that made Obama’s speech a less-than-inspired statement.
Even when Obama outlined what sounded like an activist agenda, he generally restated 2008 campaign promises that were not kept during his first year as president.
* To suggest a commitment to job creation, he dusted off one of his presidential campaign’s less-impressive position papers on using tax cuts to get small businesses hiring. In particular, the president called for eliminating capital-gains taxes on investments in small businesses and for giving small employers a tax credit for new hires.
* He repeated old promises to create clean-energy jobs and to end aid to businesses that are off-shoring jobs and facilities.
* Even as said “we all hated the bank bailout” (“it’s about as popular as a root canal”), Obama defended the giveaway to big banks as a necessary, even courageous, move. And he only offered up a little of the populism that should have defined the speech, with a proposal to recover bailout bucks by placing a fee on the biggest banks. “I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea,” he declared, “but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.”