web analytics

The Most Important Economic Speech of His Presidency

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 am, December 10th, 2011 - 40 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, us politics - Tags: ,

Truth-Out content is licensed for redistribution, so I’m going to repost this excellent piece in its entirety. It’s long, but it’s worth it.  I agree with the author about the importance of the speech, though I might have called a post on this “Is Obama going to grow a pair at last?” — r0b

The Most Important Economic Speech of His Presidency
Tuesday 6 December 2011
by: Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog | Op-Ed

The President’s speech today in Osawatomie, Kansas — where Teddy Roosevelt gave his “New Nationalism” speech in 1910 — is the most important economic speech of his presidency in terms of connecting the dots, laying out the reasons behind our economic and political crises, and asserting a willingness to take on the powerful and the privileged that have gamed the system to their advantage.

Here are the highlights (and, if you’ll pardon me, my annotations):

    For most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefitted from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments than ever before. But everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t – and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.

He’s absolutely right – and it’s the first time he or any other president has clearly stated the long-term structural problem that’s been widening the gap between the very top and everyone else for thirty years – the breaking of the basic bargain linking pay to productivity gains.

    For many years, credit cards and home equity loans papered over the harsh realities of this new economy. But in 2008, the house of cards collapsed.

Exactly. But the first papering over was when large numbers of women went into paid work, starting the in the late 1970s and 1980s, in order to prop up family incomes that were stagnating or dropping because male wages were under siege – from globalization, technological change, and the decline of unions. Only when this coping mechanism was exhausted, and when housing prices started to climb, did Americans shift to credit cards and home equity loans as a means of papering over the new harsh reality of an economy that was working for a minority at the top but not for most of the middle class.

    We all know the story by now: Mortgages sold to people who couldn’t afford them, or sometimes even understand them. Banks and investors allowed to keep packaging the risk and selling it off. Huge bets – and huge bonuses – made with other people’s money on the line. Regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this, but looked the other way or didn’t have the authority to look at all.

It was wrong. It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility across the system. And it plunged our economy and the world into a crisis from which we are still fighting to recover. It claimed the jobs, homes, and the basic security of millions – innocent, hard-working Americans who had met their responsibilities, but were still left holding the bag.

Precisely – and it’s about time he used the term “wrong” to describe Wall Street’s antics, and the abject failure of regulators (led by Alan Greenspan and the Fed) to stop what was going on. But these “wrongs” were only the proximate cause of the economic crisis. The underlying cause was, as the President said before, the breaking of the basic bargain linking pay to productivity.

    Ever since, there has been a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity; balance and fairness. Throughout the country, it has sparked protests and political movements – from the Tea Party to the people who have been occupying the streets of New York and other cities. It’s left Washington in a near-constant state of gridlock. And it’s been the topic of heated and sometimes colorful discussion among the men and women who are running for president.

But this isn’t just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.

Right again. It is the defining issue of our time. But I wish he wouldn’t lump the Tea Party in with the Occupiers. The former hates government; the latter focuses blame on Wall Street and corporate greed – just where the President did a moment ago.

    Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years. Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

He might have been a bit stronger here. The “they” who are suffering collective amnesia include many of the privileged and powerful who have gained enormous wealth by using their political muscle to entrench their privilege and power. In other words, it’s not simply or even mainly amnesia. It’s a clear and concerted strategy.

    Well, I’m here to say they are wrong. I’m here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them.

Amen.

    In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here, to Osawatomie, and laid out his vision for what he called a New Nationalism. “Our country,” he said, “…means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy…of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.”

Some background: In 1909, Herbert Croly, a young political philosopher and journalist, argued in his best-selling The Promise of American Life that the large American corporation should be regulated by the nation and directed toward national goals. “The constructive idea behind a policy of the recognition of the semi-monopolistic corporation is, of course, the idea that they can be converted into economic agents…for the national economic interest,” Croly wrote. Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism embraced Croly’s idea.

    For this, Roosevelt was called a radical, a socialist, even a communist. But today, we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign: an eight hour work day and a minimum wage for women; insurance for the unemployed, the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax.

Today, over one hundred years later, our economy has gone through another transformation. Over the last few decades, huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere in the world. And many of you know firsthand the painful disruptions this has caused for a lot of Americans.

Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where the workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100, so that layoffs were too often permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. These changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs or the internet. Today, even higher-skilled jobs like accountants and middle management can be outsourced to countries like China and India. And if you’re someone whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don’t have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages and benefits – especially since fewer Americans today are part of a union.

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there’s been a certain crowd in Washington for the last few decades who respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If only we cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everyone else. And even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, they argue, that’s the price of liberty.

It’s a simple theory – one that speaks to our rugged individualism and healthy skepticism of too much government. It fits well on a bumper sticker. Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It’s never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.

Obama is advocating Croly’s proposal that large corporations be regulated for the nation’s good. But he’s updating Croly. The next paragraphs are important.

    Remember that in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history, and what did they 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.

Remember that in those years, thanks to some of the same folks who are running Congress now, we had weak regulation and little oversight, and what did that get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity, and denied care to the 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 your-on-your-own economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country. We know that it doesn’t result in a strong economy. It results in an economy that invests too little in its people and its future. It doesn’t result in a prosperity that trickles down. It results in a prosperity that’s enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens.

Look at the statistics. In the last few decades, the average income of the top one percent has gone up by more than 250%, to $1.2 million per year. For the top one hundredth of one percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her workers now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about six percent.

The very first time the President has emphasized this grotesque trend. Now listen for how he connects this with the deterioration of our economy and democracy:

    This kind of inequality – a level we haven’t seen since the Great Depression – hurts us all. When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy, from top to bottom. America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity – that’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars they made. It’s also why a recent study showed that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.

Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. And it leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them – that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.

More fundamentally, this kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise at the very heart of America: that this is the place where you can make it if you try. We tell people that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, hard work can get you into the middle class; and that your children will have the chance to do even better than you. That’s why immigrants from around the world flocked to our shores.

And what it’s done to equal opportunity, and how it’s eroded upward mobility:

    And yet, over the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. A few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance fell to around 40%. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the middle class.

It’s heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That’s inexcusable. It’s wrong. It flies in the face of everything we stand for.

What should we do about this? Not turn to protectionism or become neo-Luddites. Nor turn to some version of government planning.

    Fortunately, that’s not a future we have to accept. Because there’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country – a view that’s truer to our history; a vision that’s been embraced by people of both parties for more than two hundred years.

It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all society’s problems. It’s a view that says in America, we are greater together – when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.

So what does that mean for restoring middle-class security in today’s economy?

    It starts by making sure that everyone in America gets a fair shot at success. The truth is, we’ll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages or pollute as much as they want. That’s a race to the bottom that we can’t win – and shouldn’t want to win. Those countries don’t have a strong middle-class. They don’t have our standard of living.

In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here, to Osawatomie, and laid out his vision for what he called a New Nationalism. …

The fact is, this crisis has left a deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. And major banks that were rescued by the taxpayers have an obligation to go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit. At minimum, they should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis, and working to keep responsible homeowners in their home. We’re going to keep pushing them to provide more time for unemployed homeowners to look for work without having to worry about immediately losing their house.

I wish the Obama administration had made this a condition for the banks receiving bailouts.

But there’s far more to the speech. Read it in full. It lays out the basis for what could be the platform Obama will run on in 2012 — increasing taxes on the rich, investing in the rest us, requiring corporations and Wall Street banks that reap benefits from being in America create good jobs for Americans, and protecting our democracy from being corrupted by money — a new New Nationalism.

Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008. Since then we’ve had a president who has only reluctantly stood up to the moneyed interests Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin stood up to.

Hopefully Obama will carry this message through 2012, and gain a mandate to use his second term to take on the growing inequities and game-rigging practices that have been undermining the American economy and American democracy for years.

40 comments on “The Most Important Economic Speech of His Presidency ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Obama has certainly named the problem. But the forces aligned against him are immense. In the time of Teddy Roosevelt Conservatives and Liberals could at least agree on what the goal of political life was… the betterment and progress of the nation more or less as a whole.

    And while they may have disagreed on exactly how to achieve that, the real work of politics got done in the country clubs and golf courses where opponents could compromise; to negotiate and horse-trade. Politicians understood that things only got done if you built a broad consensus for them.

    But 30 years of neo-liberal extremism has dismantled not only the social contract, but the political one as well. As Obama states in the speech, Washington is now in a state of permanent grid-lock… nothing significant gets done.

    How can Obama single-handledly break this impasse? The US Constitution explicitly balances the power of Presidency against that of Congress and the Supreme Court…. and both are oburately aligned to the interests of the corporates and wealthy. The sheer impact of the money and power being wielded against Obama compells us to ask … what is the possible circuit-breaker?

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      The sheer impact of the money and power being wielded against Obama compells us to ask … what is the possible circuit-breaker?

      From my point of view in the US, it starts with
      – Getting corporate money out of Washington. For instance, campaign finance reform (public funding of election campaigns, tight caps on donations and strict spending limits).

      – Electoral reform. For instance, increasing the proportionality of their electoral system and taking steps to increase voter participation.

      – Breaking up and regulating the TBTF financial system.

      None of that is ever going to happen IMO. My worry is that there will be a false-flag event and things will actually go the other way in the US.

      • Afewknowthetruth 1.1.1

        Lets face it. When a person most people had never even heard of a year before gets propelled into the top job you know he was put there by the elites to carry out their agenda. (Corporate doantions confirm it.)

        American bankers and corporations have been ‘in love’ with fascism since the 1920s but have had to erode the structure of US society and undermine the constitution gradually.

        They now have the bulk of the American public where they want them -confused, fearful and dependent. High unemployment means military (or private security) recruitment is so much easier than it was. Give a hungry man three square meals a day and a uniform ….

        The next couple of years are going to be rather nasty for most people.

    • Anthony 1.2

      It’s going to be a hard thing to push against because at the same time you have to push against their economic power and idealogical power.

      The good thing is that there are some fairly rigorous critiques being built up of the elegantly simple framework of free market capitalism, so hopefully if they can gain enough agency and form a fairly singular framework that is an alternative to the current one it might have a shot.

      Who knows if it will be too late or not.

      It’s always going to be ideas/people against ideas/capital, at least now there pretty effective ways to get these to a lot of people, it just has to be the right idea – I’m thinking ecological economics etc might have a real shot.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Ahhh, election year, 2012.

    When you examine the detail of Obama’s presidency, including the massive number of drone killings in foreign countries without any oversight or consideration for international law, ongoing trillion dollar support for the bankers while ordinary Americans sink below the poverty line (46M on foodstamps and counting), and the new law just passed allowing for the indefinite detention of any US citizen without charge as a measure of the ‘War on Terror’, I think its safe to say that “change you can hope for” is a long way gone.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      Another measure of the “war on terror” is that fewer people have died in military actions in the last decade than in any prior decade of the last hundred years. Oh look, a change for the better.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        fewer people have died in military actions in the last decade than in any prior decade of the last hundred years.

        Dunno about that, the estimates of increased Iraqi civilian deaths in the years immediately after Iraq was invaded were high. A million plus IIRC. Many of them not due to direct military action, but the ongoing negative effects of US occupation and loss of US control of the structures of Iraqi society.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1

          Yes, it seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Nonetheless I have found this reported by several different sources within the research community. Debate, of course, continues to rage about methodology, but so far as I can tell there has been no serious rebuttal of the finding. cf: Steven Pinker et al

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            This is forward looking of course, but deep economic, financial and debt crises were a major driver of big wars in the 20th century.

            So Obama is not in the clear yet, even on this count.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.1.1

              I’ve given up trying to figure out what Obama’s administration stands for. This speech is all very well, but what (if anything) are they actually going to do?
              The worst possible president apart from all the other ones?

    • Afewknowthetruth 2.2

      CV

      If all goes according to plan O’bomber will soon be able to say: “I didn’t know any of it was happening. There was a communication breakdown between government departments and the private contractors.”

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        Well, that would be the case if the world really worked on the basis of a gigantic secret conspiracy, rather than simply being SNAFU.

        • Afewknowthetruth 2.2.1.1

          The idea that wealthy men would conspire to make themsleves and their associates wealthier does not occur to some people.

  3. Afewknowthetruth 3

    This speech is very much like the ‘hope and change’ bullshit that Obama churned out in order to become president -he is from the Chicago ‘school’ after all.

    Sure, the money-lenders and corporations are in control. They are in control throughout the western world. The breakup of the Rockerfeller Standard Oil empire in the early 1900s was only a temporary setback on the path to near-total control they have now achieved.

    What Obama failed to mention is the underlying reason for the fall in the American standard of living and why the American standard of living must inevitably continue to fall. Well, he couldn’t, could he?

    http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2007/05/peak_oil_in_ame.html

    No need to read the text, just look at the graph.

    Money ain’t comin’ out the ground like it used to.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Money ain’t comin’ out the ground like it used to.

      Energy ain’t coming out of the ground like it used to.

      Money still seems to be flowing out of printing presses and electronic accounts fine however. As you well know (but not many others) the former is critical but the latter is fairly useless.

  4. randal 4

    the world is coming to the end of an era if not an epoch.
    the forces at large are beyond the control of mere mortals.
    that might sound pretentious but wait and see.
    Obama is doing the best he can with a deck that is just about stacked against him, especially the noo noo head republicans who think that money equates to intelligence.

  5. Afewknowthetruth 5

    CV

    Good point.

    I tried to simplify it, rather than going into all the details about how the US was the biggest exporter of oil in the world through the 1930s to the 1960s and still had so much oil left over it could be sold domestically for a few cents a gallon, as the prime energy source for citizens and much of industry.

    Ah, the 1950s, when cars began to resemble Flash Gordon space rockets and fuel economy was the last thing on anybody’s mind.

    Jimmy Carter was the last president to speak honestly about the long term energy situation. (He was even honest about the need to for America to take control of Middle East oil.)

    Since his time the world has been subjected to a series of buffoons, sabotuers and criminals of the highest order as presidents.

    I see that the EU has come up with a new scam to restore confidence in financial systems for a few more months (weeks?), while the in the real world ‘everything turns to custard’.

    There’s no getting round declining Energy Return On Energy Invested whatever the clowns in high office might tell the proles.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      I see that the EU has come up with a new scam to restore confidence in financial systems for a few more months (weeks?)

      Perhaps 1-2 weeks. Probably only days.

      You see, all the big market players already know that these bail out facilities are only ‘optical backstops’, mirages in other words, with very little substantial behind them.

  6. lefty 6

    Typical social democrat.

    Identify the problem then do nothing about it.

    This is why people give up on voting. Only the right have the courage of their convictions.

    Whether its in Greece, Spain the US, the UK or here in NZ social democrats have consistently let their supporters down by talking like socialists and acting like neo liberals.

    They act as a roadblock to the formation of political movements that might challenge the ruling class but won’t do the job themselves.

    They are the biggest contributors to alienation from the voting system and undermine democracy far more than the right who at least have the honesty to talk like bastards and act like bastards.

    Its time for the social democrats like Obama and the Labour/Socialist parties in the developed world to either piss or get off the pot.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      +1

      the 4th Labour Government brought in neo-liberalism which is the cause of the countries problems, The 5th Labour Government did SFA to fix to fix the problems and actually actively supported most of them, and the leadership of Labour over the last three years promised more of the same. The Greens are now following the same path.

      The people who want to make a difference and correct the problems caused by over exploitation have no one to vote for.

    • seeker 6.2

      @lefty

      “Typical social democrat.

      “Identify the problem…….”

      At least an American President has’identified the problem’, and given an articulate and powerful voice to it. Big step. One needs to identify the problem before it can be solved. It is more than a Republican would be able, or prepared, to do.

  7. Oh give me a break.

    Obama is financed and owned by Goldman Sachs, is going to sign the S. 1867 act which will turn the entire US of A into a battlefield allowing the army to arrest anyone, anytime and for as long as they want without a trial and has committed more war crimes than Bush. He is not going to do anything his masters don’t want him to do/ In fact I would go as far as saying that he is a narcissistic teleprompter reading puppet while the committee of five including Hillary Clinton and Panetta rule globally with impunity.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    The underlying cause was, as the President said before, the breaking of the basic bargain linking pay to productivity.

    Wrong, the underlying cause is capitalism. Capitalism will always create poverty and thus collapse.

    It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder.

    Not runs the risk, it’s already been sold.

    Meh, A speech that basically promises to keep doing what we’ve always done.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Meh, A speech that basically promises to keep doing what we’ve always done.

      The speech itself contains little that hasn’t been said elsewhere; it the fact that the President of the USA who is saying it that makes it … almost remarkable.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        The largest investment banks and corporates have already made sure that Obama has far more money in his 2012 campaign accounts than the 8 Republican candidates put together.

        Obama does good speeches; now what else is he going to do.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.2

        Doesn’t matter WTF said it, it promises not to change the status quo and that’s the bit that needs changing.

  9. Galeandra 9

    Maybe Obama offers a final hope before the radical polarisation and disintegration of the American commonwealth?

    As do others, I see little hope for any resolution of the issues he traverses: the opportunity cost of the last decades is yet to be paid in full, and the resources to remediate things have largely been squandered.
    I think that those perceived to be ‘rich mfos’ may soon need more than gated communities to protect their slice of the Dream.

    Heaven forbid we become similarly polarised in NZ.

    • Afewknowthetruth 9.1

      Gal.

      ‘Maybe Obama offers a final hope’

      Did you read the previos comments?

      The neo-fascists have their man in position, and he is doing exactly what anyone would expect a puppet of Wall St to do.

      What Obama says is largely irrelevant. cf. 2008 “hope and change you can believe in.”

      • Galeandra 9.1.1

        Yes I did read the comments.

        I don’t know anyone who’s happy with Obama (no need to denigrate the man by contortions of wit upon his name) but most are able to differentiate the man from the system, and attribute blame accordingly.

        Andif he fails to make others support his change, well, what was it I wrote in the rest of the sentence?….( you know, the bit you omitted that followed ‘hope’?)

        Downthread posts are on the money.

  10. mike 10

    “Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008.”

    So what exactly happened to that guy? Obama seems to have a special talent for making rousing speeches that hit on exactly what people want to hear – come election time. Pretty words are well and good, but actions speak louder.

    My dear mum was so impressed with Obama when he was elected, as if he was the guy that was going to save the world. I pointed out to her then that he hadn’t actually done anything. I thought even he looked a little embarrassed when he accepted his Nobel peace prize before having done anything.

    I seem to recall him promising very similiar hope and change four years ago. Four business as usual years ago. If he gets re-elected on this populist line and nothing changes, I think hope itself will be declared dead in the US.

    This will be a fascinating election for sure. If he’s serious about doing something to fix these problems, he will face very powerful forces against him. If he’s not, if won’t matter much whether the Americans pick the psychopath from the blue team, or the psychopath from the red team.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Yes the Obama Administration has fallen WAY short of the man’s rhetoric.

      At the same time Obama’s entire Presidency has been blighted, initially by the 2008 fiscal crisis, and then by a Congress unhinged in it’s opposition to him. Even so in the first two years significant health-care reforms were achieved despite a HUGE politial battle that consumed immense amounts of political capital and good will.

      But in the aftermath of that the American public elected a Congress dominated by an insane GOP Party that has not only rejected every possible opportunity for bi-partisanship, but sought at all times to destroy the Obama Presidency. Even to the point of failing to confirm routine senior public service appointments.

      The Republicans have made it virtually impossible for Obama to achieve anything. Their behaviour is unprecendented in all US history; at times bordering on the traitorous. (Consider their attempt to bankrupt the Federal govt by threatening to not vote for a routine increase of the debt ceiling limit.)

      I doubt any President has faced not only such challenging times globally…but certainly none who have had to contend with such a hostile, rejectionist political environment… utterly determined to destroy him regardless almost of the cost… even to the nation.

      • mike 10.1.1

        Yes I agree Red, that’s the narrative that has come out, of a president who can’t pass anything legislation because congress quashes it just because it can. If it’s true it’s borderline traitorous as you say. Not that I have any good reason to doubt it, we just have no real way of knowing what on Earth is really going on there.

        People will say though, “He promised the same change we could believe in in 2008, why should we believe it now?” (Though it’s probably not enough for his supporters to switch their vote to the Republican insanity.) I’m glad he’s saying it, I’m just saying that talk is cheap.

        He’s also up against the Fox news propaganda machine, look for them to amp up the hate coverage to unprecedented levels this year.

        • mike 10.1.1.1

          Also, like most Obama speeches, I see a lot of “Just like you America, I don’t like x, y, and z. What I do like is American ideals and values a, b, and c. In my vision of America blah blah blah” But no concrete pledges or ideas about what exactly he intends to do.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.2

        The Republicans have made it virtually impossible for Obama to achieve anything. Their behaviour is unprecendented in all US history; at times bordering on the traitorous.

        And people wonder why I’m so against having a bicameral parliament.

  11. Afewknowthetruth 11

    Derrick Jensen ‘nailed it’ when he said: ‘Hope is the problem.’

    I hope global corporations are not going to log more of the last remaining tropical jungles.

    I hope BP doesn’t start drilling in the Arctic.

    I hope deep-sea trawlers aren’t going to overfish the last of the fish stocks.

    I hope governments decide to do something about global warming.

    Hope is one of the greatest obstacles to personal action ….. especially when you are hoping someone else will do something.

  12. randal 12

    see whether you like him or not, or his party, or his achievements he is the best we have got and he doesn’t fix parking tickets.
    the world is changing faster than mortgage rates and someone has to be at the helm and BO is it and a million times better than the republican party grotesques.

  13. Roy 13

    I wish Obama’s speechwriter would run for the Presidency. He seems like a cool guy.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Further NCEA support confirmed for Auckland students
    The number of Learning Recognition Credits for senior secondary school students will be increased for Auckland students, Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. This recognises the extended time these students will spend in Alert Levels 3 and 4. “It means students in Auckland will have a fair opportunity to attain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 mins ago
  • Long-term pathway next step to better mental wellbeing for New Zealanders
    The Government is taking a new approach to support people who experience mental distress, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “Kia Manawanui Aotearoa – Long-term pathway to mental wellbeing (Kia Manawanui) is the first 10-year plan of its kind that targets the cause of mental distress and also sets out how ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Keeping our Police safe to keep our communities safe
    The Government is committed to keeping our frontline police officers safe, so they in turn can keep New Zealanders safe – with one of the largest investments in frontline safety announced by Police Minister Poto Williams at the Police College today.   The $45 million investment includes $15.496 million in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Clean Vehicles Bill passes first checkpoint
    The Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Bill will help New Zealand drive down transport emissions by cleaning up the light vehicle fleet, Transport Minister Michael Wood says. The Bill passed its first reading today and will establish the legislative framework for key parts of the Government’s Clean Car Package, including ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Funding boost supports ongoing Māori COVID-19 response
    The Government is responding to the need by whānau Māori and Māori Health providers to support their ongoing work responding to COVID-19 and to continue increasing rates of Māori vaccination, Associate Minister for Health (Māori Health), Peeni Henare and Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today.   This increased ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Significant increase to COVID-19 penalties
    Penalties for breaches of COVID-19 orders are set to significantly increase from early November 2021 to better reflect the seriousness of any behaviour that threatens New Zealand’s response to the virus, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Throughout this Delta outbreak we’ve seen the overwhelming majority of people doing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill returns to Parliament
    The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill has returned to Parliament for its second reading in an important step towards giving enforcement agencies greater power to protect New Zealanders from terrorist activity. “The Bill addresses longstanding gaps in our counter terrorism legislation that seek to protect New Zealanders and make us safer,” Justice ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Joint Statement: New Zealand and Australian Trade Ministers
    Hon Damien O'Connor MP, New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, and Hon Dan Tehan MP, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, met virtually on Monday 20 September to advance trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER). CER is one of the most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s Post Cabinet Press Conference/COVID-19 Update opening statement
    ***Please check against delivery***   E te tī, e te tā, nau mai rā [To all, I bid you welcome]   As you will have seen earlier, today there are 22 new community cases to report; three of which are in Whakatiwai in the Hauraki area, and the remainder in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Major milestones for Māori COVID-19 vaccine rollout as new campaign launches
    Whānau Ora and Associate Health (Māori Health) Minister Peeni Henare acknowledges two major milestones in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme for Māori. “I am very pleased to announce more than 50 percent of eligible Māori have received their first dose and 25 per cent are now fully vaccinated,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government funding to fight infectious diseases
    $36 million for research into Covid-19 and other infectious diseases The investment will improve our readiness for future pandemics Research will focus on prevention, control, and management of infectious diseases The Government’s investing in a new Infectious Diseases Research Platform to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid-19 response and preparedness for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Quarantine-free travel with Australia to remain suspended for a further 8 weeks
    Suspension to be reviewed again mid to late November Decision brought forward to enable access from Australia to first tranche of around 3000 rooms in MIQ Air New Zealand working at pace to put on more flights from Australia from October    The suspension of quarantine-free travel (QFT) with Australia has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Extra support for Ethnic Communities to share vaccination information
    Extra support is being made available to Ethnic Communities to help them share COVID-19 vaccination information within their communities, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan said. “We know we need to get every eligible person in New Zealand vaccinated. A fund being launched today will allow for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • School holidays remain unchanged for Auckland region
    School holidays in Auckland will continue to be held at the same time as the rest of the country, starting from Saturday, 2 October, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “I’ve carefully considered advice on the implications of shifting the dates and concluded that on balance, maintaining the status quo ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government continues crackdown on gangs and organised crime
    Operation Tauwhiro extended until March 2022 Since it was launched in February, Operation Tauwhiro has resulted in:   987 firearms seized $4.99 million in cash seized 865 people charged with a firearms-related offence Gangs and organised crime groups will continue to be relentlessly targeted with the extension of Police’s successful ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Speech to Body Positive 'HIV Treatments Update Seminar 2021'
    E ngā mana E ngā reo E ngā iwi Tēnā koutou katoa Ka huri ki ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēnā koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I te kaupapa o te rā. Nō reira tēnā koutou katoa Acknowledgements It’s a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Power bill changes bring fairness to charges
    A key recommendation of an independent panel to make electricity charges fairer across all households will be put in place, the Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has announced. “Phasing out the regulations on ‘low-use’ electricity plans will create a fairer playing field for all New Zealanders and encourage a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ economy’s strong momentum will support rebound from Delta outbreak; COVID fund replenished
    The economy showed strong momentum in the period leading up to the recent Delta COVID-19 outbreak, which bodes well for a solid economic rebound, Grant Robertson said. GDP rose 2.8 percent in the June quarter, following on from a 1.4 percent increase in the previous March quarter. This was a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Projects create benefits into the future
    Making a well-known lake swimmable and helping to halt the decline of the endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins are among a suite of new projects being supported by the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme across the southern South Island, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “It’s no secret that many of our most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Opening statement for Whāriki Indigenous Small Business Roundtable
      Kei ngā tōpito e wha o te āo e rere ana te mihi maioha ki a koutou nō tawhiti, nō tata mai e tāpiri ana ki tēnei taumata kōrero mo te ao hokohoko arā mā ngā pākihi mo ngā iwi taketake Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa – Pai Mārire.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New members appointed to Kāpuia
    The Government is adding four additional members to Kāpuia, the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques. “I’m looking forward to having Pamela MacNeill, Huia Bramley, Melani Anae and Katherine Dedo  join Kāpuia and contribute to this group’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Timeline confirmed for Emissions Reductions Plan
    Cabinet has agreed to begin consulting on the Emissions Reduction Plan in early October and require that the final plan be released by the end of May next year in line with the 2022 Budget, the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw confirmed today. “Cabinet’s decision allows organisations and communities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Pay parity pathway for early learning teachers confirmed
    Pay parity conditions and higher funding rates for education and care services will come into force on 1 January, 2022, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins confirmed today. The Government signalled this work in Budget 2021. “From 1 January, 2022, centres opting into the scheme will receive government funding and be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Conference 2021
    Kia Ora tatau katoa.   Ka tuku mihi ki nga nēhi, He pou Hauora o Aotearoa, E ora ai tatou.   Whakatau mai  I runga i te kaupapa o te ra Te NZNO conference.   Tena koutou tena koutou Tena tatou katoa   Good morning, and thank you inviting me ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government investment in farmer-led catchment groups sweeps past 150 mark
    171 catchment groups have now been invested in by the Government 31 catchment groups in the Lower North Island are receiving new support More than 5,000 farmers are focussed on restoring freshwater within a generation through involvement in catchment groups  Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Fight to protect kauri on track
    The Government is pitching in to help vital work to protect nationally significant kauri forests in Auckland, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says. “Ensuring the survival of these iconic trees for future generations means doing everything we can to prevent the potential spread of kauri dieback disease,” Kiri Allan said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Joint statement of Mr Bernard Monk; Hon Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry,...
    [Note: The Parties have agreed on terms to fully and finally settle the proceeding and will jointly issue the below statement.] At the heart of this litigation are the lives of the 29 men tragically lost at the Pike River mine on 19 November 2010 and to whom we pay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More financial support for businesses
    Today’s decision to keep Auckland in a higher COVID Alert Level triggers a third round of the Wage Subsidy Scheme which will open for applications at 9am this Friday. “The revenue test period for this payment will be the 14th to the 27th of September. A reminder that this is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand provides further humanitarian support for Afghanistan
    Aotearoa New Zealand is providing a further $3 million in humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  “There is significant humanitarian need in Afghanistan, with the crisis disproportionately affecting women and girls,” said Nanaia Mahuta. The UN has estimated that 80% of the quarter of a million ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Innovative te reo prediction tool announced in Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori
    A new Māori language prediction tool will play a key role in tracking our te reo Māori revitalisation efforts, Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today. He Ara Poutama mō te reo Māori (He Ara Poutama) can forecast the number of conversational and fluent speakers of te reo Māori ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further Government support for people to access food and essential items
    The Government is responding to need for support in Auckland and has committed a further $10 million to help people access ongoing food and other essential items, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced today. This latest tranche is targeted at the Auckland region, helping providers and organisations to distribute ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Half a million Pfizer vaccines from Denmark
    The Government has secured an extra half a million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from Denmark that will start arriving in New Zealand within days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “This is the second and larger agreement the Government has entered into to purchase additional vaccines to meet the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Inland Revenue providing essential COVID support for businesses
    Inland Revenue is seeing increased demand for Resurgence Support Payments and other assistance schemes that it administers, but is processing applications quickly, Revenue Minister David Parker said today. David Parker said the Resurgence Support Payment, the Small Business Cashflow (loan) Scheme and the Wage Subsidy are available at the same ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand marks 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
    New Zealand is expressing unity with all victims, families and loved ones affected by the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, and all terrorist attacks around the world since, including in New Zealand. “Saturday marks twenty years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to SPREP Environment Ministers
    Talofa Honourable Ulu of Tokelau Faipule Kelihiano Kalolo Tēnā koutou katoa and warm Pacific greetings from Aotearoa to your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. The new science released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 8 August paints an alarming picture of the projected impacts of climate change on the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional Resurgence Support Payments to support business
    Businesses affected by higher Alert Levels will be able to apply for further Resurgence Support Payments (RSP). “The Government’s RSP was initially intended as a one-off payment to help businesses with their fixed costs, such as rent. Ministers have agreed to provide additional payments to recognise the effects of an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • More Dawn Raids scholarships announced
    Details of the ‘Manaaki New Zealand Short Term Training Scholarships’, a goodwill gesture that follows the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s, were released today by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio. “These scholarships that are targeted to the Pacific will support the kaupapa of the Dawn Raids’ ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • One-way quarantine-free travel for RSE workers starting in October
      One-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu starts in October New requirement for RSE workers to have received their first vaccination pre-departure, undertake Day 0 and Day 5 tests, and complete a self-isolation period of seven days, pending a negative Day 5 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt boosts Pacific suicide prevention support
    Applications have opened for the Pacific Suicide Prevention Community Fund as the Government acts to boost support amid the COVID delta outbreak. “We know strong and connected families and communities are the most important protective factor against suicide and this $900,000 fund will help to support this work,” Health Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt parks the expiry of licenses, WoFs and regos
    As a result of the Delta outbreak, driver licences, Warrants of Fitness (WoFs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs), vehicle licences (‘regos’) and licence endorsements that expired on or after 21 July 2021 will be valid until 30 November 2021, Transport Minister Michael Wood has announced today. “While this extension won’t officially ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago