President Obama's speech today on spurring job creation -- particularly in small businesses -- was primarily focused on policy substance, but it also featured some of his toughest language in recent weeks about the Republican Party.
In a sober tone, President Obama portrayed the Republican Party as opportunistic, obstructionist, and deeply hypocritical, accusing them of both having created the economic crisis we face today and having done nothing to help solve it. He also slammed their hypocritical attacks on government spending, reminding them that they are the ones who created the deficit, and that the recovery act represents just a small portion of it.
The fear among economists across the political spectrum that was — was that we were rapidly plummeting towards a second Great Depression. So, in the weeks and months that followed, we undertook a series of difficult steps to prevent that outcome. And we were forced to take those steps largely without the help of an opposition party, which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that had led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve.
... Now, there are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. This is a false choice. Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment insurance so that our deficits will start coming down.
... So let me just be clear here. Despite what some have claimed, the cost of the Recovery Act is only a very small part of our current budget imbalance. In reality, the deficit had been building dramatically over the previous eight years. We have a structural gap between the money going out and the money coming in. Folks passed tax cuts and expansive entitlement programs without paying for any of it — even as health care costs kept rising, year after year. As a result, the deficit had reached $1.3 trillion when we walked into the White House. And I’d note: These budget-busting tax cuts and spending programs were approved by many of the same people who are now waxing political about fiscal responsibility, while opposing our efforts to reduce deficits by getting health care costs under control. It’s a sight to see.
Obviously, President Obama's number one challenge is turning this country's economy around after eight years of Republican rule, but it's impossible to separate that task from politics, especially when the G.O.P. is doing nothing but playing politics. To maintain popular support, it's imperative that President Obama both defend himself and the Democratic Party from the GOP's attacks, and go on the offense. That's exactly what he did today, and it's a good thing to see.