COMMENTARY | Once again, President Obama has addressed the nation in a speech loaded with lofty, yet mostly empty, rhetoric. As he has done on so many previous occasions, Obama acknowledged some painful truths while putting forth no real meaningful solutions to the problems plaguing our nation and, in this case, its struggling economy.
It was nice to see the president express his alarm at the nation’s growing wealth gap, that “the income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged,” or that “Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor,” or that the very bargain implicit in the “American Dream” — “that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and above all, to hand down a better life for your kids” — has been broken.
But that’s about where Obama’s honesty ended. He then went on to claim that his administration “put in tough new rules on big banks,” failing to mention that not a single Wall Street bankster has been jailed or that the so-called “financial reform” bill has been widely decried as “toothless.” Same goes for Obamacare — in his speech, the president claimed he “took on a broken health care system.” How? By allowing insurance industry lobbyists to write key portions of the Affordable Care Act and by ensuring that the U.S. remains the only industrialized nation without some sort of single-payer universal health care program?
I personally cannot complain about my current economic situation. I am a 39-year-old who is employed as a writer, living in a San Francisco household where my partner earns more than enough to provide for all of our needs and more. But that doesn’t change the fact that millions of Americans are suffering — 46 million, or one out of every six of us, is poor. And the “recovery” Obama is touting is painfully sluggish; most of the employment being created is of the low-wage, part-time, no-benefit variety.
American will need more than soaring rhetoric and “God’s blessing” to survive as we know it. It will need real change, change that this president has proven as unable — or unwilling — to deliver as any of his predecessors in living memory.