Saturday, June 09, 2012

Who's Out Of Touch?


Yesterday, trying desperately to wipe the shit off his shoes, Willard accused President Obama of being out of touch with the American people. This from the most out-of-touch quarter billionaire-- and the first candidate who has a car elevator in his garage but doesn't know what a donut is-- to run for president:
"Is he really that out of touch? I think he's defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people," Romney told supporters in a park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. "Has there ever been an American president who is so far from reality?"

Romney had no choice but to make a lot of noise and hope his friends in the corporate media would be distracted by his boneheaded claims Friday about how the U.S. doesn't need any more teachers, firemen and policemen. He claims that was the lesson of Wisconsin. The lesson of Wisconsin, though, was, clearly, that surly voters don't want to see recalls used for policy disagreements. Oh, and that spending twenty-five times more than your opponent will get you a narrow win in those circumstances. Romney's diagnosis for what ails our country: too many educators and first responders! (I think it's too many billionaires... but then I think one billionaire is too many billionaires.)
When Republicans attack public workers, they often take care to exempt cops and firefighters, because they are culturally sympathetic figures, and muddle the message that government workers are parasites who are destroying the economic conditions of ordinary Americans.

But today Mitt Romney got a good deal more specific, claiming we do not need to hire more cops or firefighters specifically, which would, he said, cut against the interests of the American people. He also specifically named teachers.

Romney made the comments in response to Obama’s presser today, at which the president claimed the “private sector is doing fine.” Per CNN:

Romney said of Obama, “he wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

It’s hard to argue that the message from Wisconsin was that Americans don’t think we should hire more firefighters and cops. They were exempted from Scott Walker’s crackdown on public employee bargaining rights, which enabled him to “divide and conquer” labor.

But beyond that, this could resonate in the presidential race: It will allow the White House to reframe the debate over public sector workers and job creation on more favorable terms.

One of the components of the American Jobs Act that Obama continues to demand that Republicans pass would invest $35 billion in federal funds to keep cops, firefighters, and teachers on the job. Republicans, Romney included, oppose this plan. Central to their argument against this type of investment is to keep the focus on public sector workers as a class, arguing that they are bilking the taxpayer and are to blame for the economic plight of struggling Americans. As Romney recently put it: “We have 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let’s send them home and put you back to work.”

Will the Republican's divisive politics of envy triumph? This morning the President tried framing the argument in very human terms during his weekly radio interview:
This week, I spent some time talking with college students about how we can make higher education more affordable. And one of the things I told them was how proud I was that they were making that investment in themselves-- because in today’s economy, the best predictor of success is a good education. 
That’s not just true for our individual success; it’s also true for America’s success. New jobs and new businesses will take root wherever they can find the most highly-educated, highly-skilled workers. And I want those workers to be American workers. I want those good-paying, middle-class jobs to take root right here.
So it should concern everyone that right now-- all across America-- tens of thousands of teachers are getting laid off. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 9,000 fewer educators in our schools today than just a year ago. In Ohio, the number is close to 7,000. And nationwide, over the past three years, school districts have lost over 250,000 educators. Think about what that means for our country.  When there are fewer teachers in our schools, class sizes start climbing up. Our students start falling behind. And our economy takes a hit.
The point is: teachers matter. One study found that a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can change the course of a child’s life. So the last thing our country needs is to have fewer teachers in our schools.    
Now, I know states are still going through some tough times. I realize that every Governor is dealing with limited resources and many face stark choices when it comes to their budgets. 
But that doesn’t mean we should just stand by and do nothing. When states struggle, it’s up to Congress to step in and help out. In 2009 and in 2010, we provided aid to states to help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom. But we need to do more. That’s why a critical part of the jobs bill that I sent to Congress back in September was to help states prevent even more layoffs and rehire even more teachers who had lost their jobs. 
But months later, we’re still waiting on Congress to act.
When it comes to this recovery, we can’t fully control everything that happens in other parts of the world. But there are plenty of things we can control. There are plenty of steps we can take, right now, to strengthen our economy. Putting teachers back in our kids’ classrooms is one of those steps. And there’s no excuse for inaction. You work hard. Your leaders should, too. Especially at this make-or-break moment for the middle class. 
I know this is an election year. But some things are bigger than an election. Some things are bigger than politics. So I hope you’ll join me in telling Congress to do the right thing; to get to work and to help get our teachers back in the classroom. We can’t afford to wait any longer.



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