Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Obama's blue-collar speech

Obama's blue-collar speech

Tomorrow's news today -- my fair and balanced coverage of the president's jobs speech:

President Obama delivered a blue-collar speech last night for a blue-collar crisis.

There was no soaring rhetoric when the embattled president went before a joint session of Congress and a national TV audience to pitch a larger-than-expected, $447 billion plan to tackle America’s unemployment problem.

What the nation got instead was a roll-up-your sleeves, lunch-bucket plea to reject Beltway politics as usual and actually enact some legislation, punctuated by a plaintive refrain: “Pass this jobs bill.”

But with Obama facing the daunting task of seeking re-election this year with joblessness projected to stay above 9 percent, opposition Republicans will not make his job easy. Already, some GOPers are saying that aspects of his plan that involve new spending — such as fixing sagging infrastructure and repairing 35,000 schools — are dead on arrival.

Here’s a guide to some highlights and lowlights:

The 411: Obama wants to continue and make larger reductions in payroll taxes for workers and extend those cuts to small-business employers, launch new job-creating infrastructure projects, create new tax breaks for companies that hire and overhaul unemployment compensation.

Obama takes on the Tea Party: The president never mentioned the Tea Party — the far-right tail that wags the dog of the Republican Party — by name, but he took on its extreme view of limited government in forceful terms.

“In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own – that’s not who we are,” Obama said. “That’s not the story of America.”

The Tea Party ignores Obama: About a half-dozen conservative members of the House and Senate said they were skipping the speech because they’ve heard it all before. Tea Party favorite Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia held a “Twitter town hall” instead. “Good campaign speech, but no new ideas,” Broun tweeted. “Just bigger government and more debt.”

Best Obama line of the night: “I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.” That was an in-your-face reference to lobbyist Grover Norquist’s no-tax-hike-ever pledge that most GOPers in D.C. have signed onto.

Worst Obama line of the night: “We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.” Really? Then why did Obama scuttle tough new standards on smog — just last week?

Did you notice? That every political figure in Washington wears a solid-color neon tie. Was there a memo about that?

Most uncomfortable spectator shown on TV: Is it really hot in here, or is it just a very sweaty House Speaker John Boehner?

Most uncomfortable spectator not shown on TV: Probably General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who was one of Obama’s guests and got to hear the president say ‘our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists.” That would include GE, which, with the help of former Capitol Hill insiders, has admitted it paid little or no income taxes for 2010.

Biggest baby of the night: Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who whined publicly about having to cancel his Saints’ season-opener watching party back home to attend the speech. Maybe that’s fitting, since it was Vitter, after all, who was named in a prostitute scandal with a fetish for wearing diapers.

Worst Twitter hashtag of the night: It’s a tie!

The White House sent out all its speech-related tweets with the hashtag #jobsnow. Didn’t anyone tell them that’s an anagram for #snowjob?

The GOP countered with the hashtag #4jobs. That would be 4 more jobs than they’ve created since taking back control of the House.

How the president ended speech: “Let’s get to work, and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”

How the president should have ended speech: “Now America...are you ready for some football!!!”

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Will Bunch
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