Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

The True Culprits

Dec 09, 2010

Over the course of the last several weeks, we have diligently watched as our President, Barack Obama, and the Democratic Party withstood filibustering and stonewalling from the right.  Conducting hearings on the weekend, and doing everything they conceivably could to assist the poor and middle-class, their repeated attempts at compromise were met with fierce resistance and an utter disregard for the majority of this nation by the Republicans.  And now, after holding the American people hostage as our President so rightfully pointed out, these self-aggrandizing politicians are sitting back and allowing Obama to be the scapegoat for all that ails us.  It’s time we call them out.

“I think it’s tempting to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed,” explained President Obama at a press conference on Tuesday following a potential deal on tax cuts.  “Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy.  In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.”

In a rare Senate session on Saturday, December 4th, Republicans first shot down a measure to grant tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less.  Instead of assisting struggling middle-class and poor families during these turbulent economic times, the GOP effectively shut the door on a quick maneuver to help those most in need.  Senate Democrats then proposed an extension of tax cuts for all those making a million dollars or less – in essence taking a significant step towards meeting their Republican counterparts halfway.  Again, this measure was voted down.

Last week, we also witnessed the failure of Republican leaders to pass an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.  The result:  some 600,000 American workers immediately saw an end to the money they rely on for mere survival, and a total 2 million were set to lose theirs by the end of the month.  After paying into unemployment through years of work, many of these individuals would soon find it difficult to simply put food on the table.  At a time when families gather for the Holidays, Republicans deemed it appropriate to take away these people’s livelihood all for the sake of garnering tax cuts for their wealthy friends and associates.

Politics can often be a dirty game.  Many a times, people act and vote in favor of their own vested interests.  But when you allow the well being and sustainability of millions of our citizenry to hang in the balance, you must be held accountable.  And we, the people, must never forget that these Republican leaders were ready, willing and only eager to allow tax cuts for everyone to expire, and allow 2 million to lose their unemployment checks.  We must never be shy in calling out these elected representatives for who they are, and for whom they serve.  And we must always bear in mind that they were prepped to sacrifice everything in order to benefit the wealthy and progress their own personal agendas.

President Obama was effectively caught between a rock and a hard place.  Yes, he could have remained steadfast on his insistence of a tax cut for the middle-class only, but at what cost?  Unlike those on the right, he could not in good conscience gamble on the lives of innocents suffering during these difficult and unpredictable times.  And for that simple notion, we should all thank him – not attack him.