The one outright falsehood in the speech was the argument that the three proposed free trade agreements would be good for American jobs. We now have two decades and millions of lost manufacturing jobs to counter that argument.
The one great omission in the speech was that Obama had the platform to call for the transformation of this economy from a speculative Wall Street economy to a green Main Street economy. We can create millions of jobs by retrofitting buildings, making them energy efficient, and expanding our public transportation infrastructure. Obama talked about main street but he left out the green. In so doing, he is missing the opportunity to champion the transformation that both the planet and the country so desperately need.
And, Obama failed say that if we just ended the war in Iraq – just Iraq (the war he called the ‘dumb’ war), not even including Afghanistan – there would be enough money to hire one million workers for a year, including every one of those 50,000 soldiers we would bring home.
The best part of the speech was Obama’s call to restore fairness in the economy. He pointed out the horrors of the rich and giant corporations feasting on tax loopholes and tax breaks. And, he used the graphic example of Warren Buffett paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. He made the injustice clear.
Obama also focused on the key fact that small business have long been the great creators of jobs in this country, but he failed to mention that Wall Street and the Fortune 500 have long been in the business of job destruction.
Obama said he would send to Congress a plan to pay for his program a week from this coming Monday. This is the great opportunity to both pay for vital programs and make this country fairer. IPS pointed out last week that 25 giant corporations are paying their CEOs more than they pay in taxes. Now is the time to close corporate tax havens, tax speculative flows, end subsidies for the global oil giants, and raise taxes on the richest Americans. IPS has pinpointed over a half a trillion dollars in fair taxes that can make this country more equal.
A final point for Obama next Monday. He rightly called for an infrastructure bank, while failing to emphasize that is should be a green infrastructure bank. Next Monday, he should echo the Nation’s Bill Greider in his call to have the Federal Reserve NOT put a penny more in private banks but instead steer billions directly into such a bank.
John Cavanagh is the Director of the Institute for Policy Studies.