Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog
The President vs. the GOP—
As much as President Obama worked to keep his jobs plan and Congressional address from being juxtaposed with the Republican debate, the last two evenings proved remarkable for anyone concerned about the state of the nation. On one side, you had a president outlining methods of kick starting job creation, while on the other, you had a flock of candidates who received the biggest applause after a comment regarding high numbers of executions in the state of Texas. The president once again urged his opposition to put petty differences aside and pass his bill quickly, meanwhile GOP presidential hopefuls were busy attacking Social Security and each other instead of providing us with solutions to our jobs crisis. To the voting public, these two nights portrayed everything we need to know about the next election: keep progressing forward, or revert backwards to a place where our intelligence is insulted and the rich keep rewarding themselves.
"The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working," stated the president in his address in front of a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening. Calling for tax incentives for small businesses and $1500 tax cuts for working Americans, he pushed for job creation in many industries while providing additional tax credits for those companies that hire the long-term unemployed. But perhaps most noteworthy from his speech was the tone that this president set; it was firm, to the point, conciliatory and yet forceful all at the same time. It was, in effect, brilliant. Although the devil will be in the details that are scheduled to be released a week from this Monday, the president has literally checkmated John Boehner.
In this highly anticipated jobs speech, our commander-in-chief urged every member gathered in the room to put their differences aside and pass the plan immediately. Again rising above partisan politics, he appealed to a new level of patriotism thereby leaving his opponents as nothing but petty if they were to challenge his job creation ideas. Addressing workers' rights and collective bargaining rights, the president acknowledged the importance and relevance of unions and labor in our society. Highlighting the need to have the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share in taxes, he stressed the importance of assisting those hurting the most by doing things like extending unemployment insurance for another year.
There will be those that will continue to criticize the president no matter what he says or does, but after Thursday night, nobody can deny that he has the nation's best interest at heart. While he spoke of saving schools and encouraging future engineers, GOP candidates continued to pander to their base and avoid any real discussion of any real solutions the evening before. While some folks like Rick Perry and Mitt Romney appeared the clear frontrunners, none of the Republican candidates gave any substantive answers in terms of job creation. As they touted death penalties, attacks on Social Security and of course attacks on one another, they failed to address the real issues Americans lose sleep over. With unemployment remaining painfully stagnant, their non-existent ideas will keep them non-existent at the polls.
The depth of our current economic crisis is so complex that there are no easy answers. But if we are to maintain our strong standing in the world, we must begin to follow through on the president's suggestions as quickly as possible. The work starts now, and it will take all of us to dig ourselves out of the trenches and push forward.
This week of debates and speeches has left one thing clear: we can either continue bickering with one another much like candidates did on Wednesday evening, or we can create and work towards sustainable resolutions as our president now calls each and every one of us to do.