Smart v. Stupid
Broken government: The speech Obama should give
In recent speeches, President Obama has begun to tackle the issue of Republican obstructionism. But here is the speech he ought to be giving…
My fellow Americans,
Government is broken. Only you can fix it. Until it is fixed, there is little chance of fixing our economy. That’s the hard truth I deliver tonight.
You have a choice to make in the next election. The choice could not be clearer. It is a choice between the elected official who comes to Washington to make government effective, honest and capable, and the elected official who comes to Washington deliberately to make government broken and ineffective.
The latter is the same goal that dictators and despots and terrorists have for America. They all want to create a United States government that can’t accomplish anything… a country that is no longer united… a nation that can no longer lead. Unfortunately, some in our own government now have the same agenda.
We’ve seen what happens when our government doesn’t do its job. When my predecessor came to office, his administration announced—in large and small ways—that the government would no longer regulate commerce. They didn’t change laws, they just stopped enforcing them.
By 2008, our economy had completely collapsed. The new system—regulated only by greed—caused our auto industry to falter, our financial markets to tank, and the retirement accounts of millions of Americans to be cut in half. Ratings agencies were supposed to be capitalism’s method of self-regulation. But they failed miserably. Without government serving in its oversight role, credit ratings were simply bought and sold. In fact, these same ratings firms were at the center of the collapse.
Commerce without oversight turned out to be a greedy, selfish child. Nothing was left of our great economic system but its bones. So-called “free-market capitalism” took only eight, short years to destroy itself. And it required hundreds of billions of dollars of your money to begin to undo the damage caused by government’s failure to enforce the rules.
By 2010, we were well on our way to recovery. But that didn’t come fast enough for many Americans. So many of you voted for a change in your government. It’s perfectly understandable that you did. The hole we were in was deep, the pain was great and the worry about our future was still profound.
Unfortunately, that change-election brought with it a group of elected anarchists. And progress ground to a screeching halt. This Congress that has done less than any other Congress in our history at a time when real leaders are sorely needed.
Many of the new members of Congress have openly admitted that they are here to destroy the government. They tried to put our government in default. They weren’t even willing to pay what they had voted to spend.
These anarchists and bomb throwers don’t believe that you should get the Social Security you’ve paid for all your life. They don’t believe you should count on the Medicare you’ve paid for. And they are willing to create an economy where you have to work until you die. Theirs is a “can’t do” America—an anarchist’s America—a predator’s America. But it is not our America.
They rail against high taxes, but today each American pays less than our father and mother. Are you really better off than your folks were? Are you better off in a system where government collects less than it costs to pay for the same benefits that your parents received? Did your parents get to retire?
That America is not our America. Ours is a can-do country where Americans really do have the highest standard of living in the world. It’s a country where we really do have longer, healthier lives, where we lead the world in innovations, and where we have the most fun. Ours is the America where a lifetime of hard work is rewarded with the golden years of retirement. It’s a country where a business is not allowed to lie to a customer, where a product must perform as promised, and were a toy can’t kill a child. Ours is an America is for Americans.
And when ordinary Americans prosper, so does small business and so do the large corporations. Prosperity trickles up, not the other way around. Customers are the engine of capitalism and of jobs. Employees are hired when a willing buyer shows up at the door. Jobs are not created for any other reason.
Today, 13.9 million people are unemployed. Of these, over two million are unemployed because their jobs are still taken by older folks who found themselves unable to retire. Another million are people who have been laid off by various state and local governments. Many are teachers, firefighters and police officers. Without just these two factors unemployment would be 7.1 percent and heading downward. That is the anarchist’s America. But it is not our America.
Fortunately, we are still a country ruled by its people. We have all seen how capitalism can destroy itself because no one was minding the rules, how gridlocked government has made things worse, and how one group of anarchists in control of one house of Congress can prevent the entire rest of the nation from returning to greatness.
If you want government to fail, vote for the anarchists. But if you want government to once again do great things… to help you have a great career… to make sure you can one day retire with dignity… to make sure you get what you’ve already paid for… then you have another choice to make. Choose a representative who believes the role of government is to make things fair, to enforce our laws and to restore American greatness.
Greatness is within our grasp. That is our America, the great America. Vote for leaders who share our vision… and who have the brains, the drive and the determination to make America our America… once again.
Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”