Today, Obama addressed the nation from the parking lot of a construction company today. The site was a strategic one, as was the message the President delivered. In the midst of perhaps a dozen repetitions of the words “Republican Shutdown.” the message was clear:
SCREW YOU, TEA PARTY.
AMERICA DOES NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS.
“Remember that just over 5 years ago, our economy was in a free-fall. Businesses were shutting down hundreds of thousands of jobs every single month. And the recession ultimately cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their savings — everything they’ve worked hard to build. Over the last 3.5 years, our businesses have added over 7.5 million jobs. Our deficits are falling, our housing markets are healing (which means that the construction industry is improving), manufacturing is growing, our auto industry is back. America’s on pace to become the number-one energy producer in the world this year. More small businesses can grow, just like Emily (the company owner) did with the Small Business Jobs Act that I signed three years ago.”
“But we still have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do. Especially to rebuild the middle class. But we’re making steady progress. And the reason I’m here is that we can’t afford to threaten that progress right now.”
“The worst part is that this time, it’s not because of a once-in-a-lifetime recession…It’s happening because of a reckless Republican shutdown in Washington…The impacts of the shutdown go way beyond what you’re seeing on television.”
He then went on to list all the people — construction workers, federal employees, the businesses who depend on them, annd those affected by the shutdown. Obama also pointedly included farmers (a traditional Teabagger stronghold) who wouldn’t be getting any of the more of the 1 billion in pending loans while the shutdown was in effect, also veterans, children in the Head Start program, the parents forced to make accommodations for sudden changes in scheduling.
“The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder. And there’s one way out of this reckless and damaging Republican shutdown. Congress has to pass a budget that funds our government with no partisan strings attached. I want everybody to understand what’s happening, because sometimes when this gets reported on, everybody kind of thinks, ‘Well, it’s Democrats and Republicans — they’re always squabbling. Neither side is behaving properly.”
Obama explained the situation to the crowd, starting at last year’s cut-throat Republican budget, and explaining how that budget passed. But that turned out to be only an example of the primary point, relating to Congress’ numbers and abilities to pass a bill:
“There are enough votes in the House of Representatives TODAY that if the Speaker of the House John Boehner simply let the bill get on the floor for an up or down vote, every congressman would simply vote their conscience and the shutdown would end TODAY. The only thing keeping people from going back to work, and basic research starting back up, and small business owners getting their loans; the only thing that’s preventing all that, right now, today, in the next FIVE MINUTES, is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes or no vote. Because he doesn’t want to anger the [Teabaggers] in his party. That’s it.”
Much like his speech from yesterday, Obama didn’t pull any punches, and he didn’t hesitate to place blame exactly where it belonged.
“We’ve heard a lot from congressional Republicans in the last couple of days saying they don’t want the shutdown. Well, there’s a simple way to prove that. Send the bill to the floor, let everybody vote, it will pass, send me the bill and I will sign it. Then we can get back to the business of governing and helping the American people. then, in the next half hour, national parks, government offices, benefits and services would resume again. Hundreds of thousands of dedicated public servants could go back to work right away.”
And what happens if congress DOESN’T get back to work? The picture Obama painted was dire.
“In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time. In an economic shutdown, they don’t. In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time. In an economic shutdown, they don’t. In a government shutdown millions of Americans face real economic danger. In and economic shutdown, pensions, interest rates on homes and students loans — those things risk putting us back into a bad recession. This company, these workers, all of you…that’s not my analysis, that’s all of you. And the United States is the center of the world’s economy. If we screw up, the whole world gets screwed up.”
Toward the end of his speech, Obama gave what we think might be one of the single greatest statements given by a politician in the last few decades. If not one of the greatest, than certainly one of the most honest and straightforward. And for one of the first times, Obama referred to the obstructionists not by “a faction,” but by their proper name.
“They won’t agree to the shutdown until they get their way. And you may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Just the other day, one Tea Party Republican called the shutdown ‘Wonderful.” Another said that ‘the shutdown is exactly what we wanted.’ Well, they got exactly what they wanted, now they’re trying to get out of it. Another said…and I’m quoting, “We’re not going to be disrespectful. We have to GET something out of this — and I don’t even know what that even IS.”
“You’ve already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people — there’s no higher honor than that. And the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag to go with it. What you GET is our intelligence professionals being back on the job. What you GET is our medical researchers back on the job. What you GET are little kids back into Head Start. What you GET are our national parks back open again. What you GET is the economy not stalling but continuing to grow. What you GET are workers continuing to be hired. That’s WHAT YOU GET. That’s what you SHOULD BE ASKING FOR. Take a vote, and end this shutdown right NOW.”
“If you’re being disrespected, it’s because of that attitude you got. That you deserve to get something just for doing your JOB…If anybody here [at the business] stopped and said “I’m going to shut this whole place down until I get something. I don’t know what, but until I GET something.’ Then what they’d get is FIRED.”
And just in case you were worried about our Commander-in-chief (who has certainly earned the title these days) is going to crack under Republican pressure…well, he left no room for interpretation with this:
“The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It is here to stay.”
“You don’t negotiate by putting a gun to the American people’s head. The American people are not pawns in a political game. We will not negotiate. You will not hold the American people hostage.”