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Reich begins: "The President's speech today in Osawatomie, Kansas - where Teddy Roosevelt gave his 'New Nationalism' speech in 1910 - is the most important economic speech of his presidency in terms of connecting the dots, laying out the reasons behind our economic and political crises, and asserting a willingness to take on the powerful and the privileged that have gamed the system to their advantage. Here are the highlights (and, if you’ll pardon me, my annotations):"

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Osawatomie High School, in Kansas, 12/06/11. (photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at Osawatomie High School, in Kansas, 12/06/11. (photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The Most Important Speech of His Presidency

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

07 December 11

Obama's 99% Speech in Kansas


he President's speech today in Osawatomie, Kansas - where Teddy Roosevelt gave his "New Nationalism" speech in 1910 - is the most important economic speech of his presidency in terms of connecting the dots, laying out the reasons behind our economic and political crises, and asserting a willingness to take on the powerful and the privileged that have gamed the system to their advantage.

Here are the highlights (and, if you'll pardon me, my annotations):

For most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefitted from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments than ever before. But everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t - and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.

He’s absolutely right – and it’s the first time he or any other president has clearly stated the long-term structural problem that’s been widening the gap between the very top and everyone else for thirty years – the breaking of the basic bargain linking pay to productivity gains.

For many years, credit cards and home equity loans papered over the harsh realities of this new economy. But in 2008, the house of cards collapsed.

Exactly. But the first papering over was when large numbers of women went into paid work, starting the in the late 1970s and 1980s, in order to prop up family incomes that were stagnating or dropping because male wages were under siege – from globalization, technological change, and the decline of unions. Only when this coping mechanism was exhausted, and when housing prices started to climb, did Americans shift to credit cards and home equity loans as a means of papering over the new harsh reality of an economy that was working for a minority at the top but not for most of the middle class.

We all know the story by now: Mortgages sold to people who couldn’t afford them, or sometimes even understand them. Banks and investors allowed to keep packaging the risk and selling it off. Huge bets - and huge bonuses - made with other people’s money on the line. Regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this, but looked the other way or didn’t have the authority to look at all.

It was wrong. It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility across the system. And it plunged our economy and the world into a crisis from which we are still fighting to recover. It claimed the jobs, homes, and the basic security of millions - innocent, hard-working Americans who had met their responsibilities, but were still left holding the bag.

Precisely – and it’s about time he used the term "wrong" to describe Wall Street’s antics, and the abject failure of regulators (led by Alan Greenspan and the Fed) to stop what was going on. But these "wrongs" were only the proximate cause of the economic crisis. The underlying cause was, as the President said before, the breaking of the basic bargain linking pay to productivity.

Ever since, there has been a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity; balance and fairness. Throughout the country, it has sparked protests and political movements - from the Tea Party to the people who have been occupying the streets of New York and other cities. It’s left Washington in a near-constant state of gridlock. And it’s been the topic of heated and sometimes colorful discussion among the men and women who are running for president.

But this isn’t just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.

Right again. It is the defining issue of our time. But I wish he wouldn’t lump the Tea Party in with the Occupiers. The former hates government; the latter focuses blame on Wall Street and corporate greed – just where the President did a moment ago.

Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years. Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

He might have been a bit stronger here. The "they" who are suffering collective amnesia include many of the privileged and powerful who have gained enormous wealth by using their political muscle to entrench their privilege and power. In other words, it’s not simply or even mainly amnesia. It’s a clear and concerted strategy.

Well, I’m here to say they are wrong. I’m here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them.


In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here, to Osawatomie, and laid out his vision for what he called a New Nationalism. "Our country," he said, "…means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy…of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him."

Some background: In 1909, Herbert Croly, a young political philosopher and journalist, argued in his best-selling The Promise of American Life that the large American corporation should be regulated by the nation and directed toward national goals. "The constructive idea behind a policy of the recognition of the semi-monopolistic corporation is, of course, the idea that they can be converted into economic agents…for the national economic interest," Croly wrote. Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism embraced Croly’s idea.

For this, Roosevelt was called a radical, a socialist, even a communist. But today, we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign: an eight hour work day and a minimum wage for women; insurance for the unemployed, the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax.

Today, over one hundred years later, our economy has gone through another transformation. Over the last few decades, huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere in the world. And many of you know firsthand the painful disruptions this has caused for a lot of Americans.

Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where the workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100, so that layoffs were too often permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. These changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs or the internet. Today, even higher-skilled jobs like accountants and middle management can be outsourced to countries like China and India. And if you’re someone whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don’t have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages and benefits - especially since fewer Americans today are part of a union.

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there’s been a certain crowd in Washington for the last few decades who respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. "The market will take care of everything," they tell us. If only we cut more regulations and cut more taxes - especially for the wealthy - our economy will grow stronger. Sure, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everyone else. And even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, they argue, that’s the price of liberty.

It’s a simple theory - one that speaks to our rugged individualism and healthy skepticism of too much government. It fits well on a bumper sticker. Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It’s never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.

Obama is advocating Croly’s proposal that large corporations be regulated for the nation’s good. But he’s updating Croly. The next paragraphs are important.

Remember that in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history, and what did they get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class - things like education and infrastructure; science and technology; Medicare and Social Security.

Remember that in those years, thanks to some of the same folks who are running Congress now, we had weak regulation and little oversight, and what did that get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity, and denied care to the patients who were sick. Mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford. A financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.

We simply cannot return to this brand of your-on-your-own economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country. We know that it doesn’t result in a strong economy. It results in an economy that invests too little in its people and its future. It doesn’t result in a prosperity that trickles down. It results in a prosperity that’s enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens.

Look at the statistics. In the last few decades, the average income of the top one percent has gone up by more than 250%, to $1.2 million per year. For the top one hundredth of one percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her workers now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about six percent.

The very first time the President has emphasized this grotesque trend. Now listen for how he connects this with the deterioration of our economy and democracy:

This kind of inequality - a level we haven’t seen since the Great Depression - hurts us all. When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy, from top to bottom. America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity - that’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars they made. It’s also why a recent study showed that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.

Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. And it leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them - that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.

More fundamentally, this kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise at the very heart of America: that this is the place where you can make it if you try. We tell people that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, hard work can get you into the middle class; and that your children will have the chance to do even better than you. That’s why immigrants from around the world flocked to our shores.

And what it’s done to equal opportunity, and how it’s eroded upward mobility:

And yet, over the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. A few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance fell to around 40%. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the middle class.

It’s heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That’s inexcusable. It’s wrong. It flies in the face of everything we stand for.

What should we do about this? Not turn to protectionism or become neo-Luddites. Nor turn to some version of government planning.

Fortunately, that’s not a future we have to accept. Because there’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country - a view that’s truer to our history; a vision that’s been embraced by people of both parties for more than two hundred years.

It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all society’s problems. It’s a view that says in America, we are greater together - when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.

So what does that mean for restoring middle-class security in today’s economy?

It starts by making sure that everyone in America gets a fair shot at success. The truth is, we’ll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages or pollute as much as they want. That’s a race to the bottom that we can’t win - and shouldn’t want to win. Those countries don’t have a strong middle-class. They don’t have our standard of living.

In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here, to Osawatomie, and laid out his vision for what he called a New Nationalism. …

The fact is, this crisis has left a deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. And major banks that were rescued by the taxpayers have an obligation to go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit. At minimum, they should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis, and working to keep responsible homeowners in their home. We’re going to keep pushing them to provide more time for unemployed homeowners to look for work without having to worry about immediately losing their house.

I wish the Obama administration had made this a condition for the banks receiving bailouts.

But there's far more to the speech. Read it in full. It lays out the basis for what could be the platform Obama will run on in 2012 - increasing taxes on the rich, investing in the rest us, requiring corporations and Wall Street banks that reap benefits from being in America create good jobs for Americans, and protecting our democracy from being corrupted by money - a new New Nationalism.

Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008. Since then we've had a president who has only reluctantly stood up to the moneyed interests Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin stood up to.

Hopefully Obama will carry this message through 2012, and gain a mandate to use his second term to take on the growing inequities and game-rigging practices that have been undermining the American economy and American democracy for years.

To view President Obama's entire speech, click here. your social media marketing partner


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+32 # skykeys 2011-12-07 11:21
This is an excellent analysis from Mr. Reich, following up his prescient Social Darwinism article last week. If you are interested in reading and discussing the concept of how the "Social Darwinism" concept is so successful for Republicans, I welcome you to read the following article:

which is from the blog The Moderates Perspective:
-20 # phantomww 2011-12-07 21:58
I love how people, including Obama, mention TR giving his speech in 1912. I hope the results are the same for Obama as for TR.
-29 # CandH 2011-12-07 11:28
All you do to me is talk...http://w watch?v=Eqjttpl 3peI&ob=av2n
+14 # Doubter 2011-12-07 20:05
Why all the negative votes?
I assume CandH is referring to the FACT that the Obama talks a good talk but then shoves the banksters in our face ( and puts them in charge of the hen house.
We need to show our dissatisfaction big time instead of being put to sleep by a new set of promises.
0 # CandH 2011-12-08 10:06
I guess nobody actually WANTS action to strongly qualify those spoken words of true comprehension of reality. Rather, they just want exceptionally brilliant, and oh-so-comfortin g TALK (I suspect so their consciences don't explode when they go to the voting booth...)
-1 # CandH 2011-12-08 10:32
Plus, I make the stupid mistake of forgetting that, for the majority of voters (at least on RSN,) it is about team spirit, blue vs red, elephants vs donkeys. And so, of course, all extraneous things, like policy or fighting back against the middle-working class destruction, is actually all just window dressing and talk about one's team spirit...

Anonymous 99 Video - Fight Back Against Corporate/Govt Crime & Lies by The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur:
+19 # fredboy 2011-12-07 11:58
Wish he'd been sharing such speeches all along. During his first three years he simply assumed the role of shoeshine boy for the GOP and special interests. I doubt whether one in 1,000 Americans saw this speech. Also, considering his failure to pass any financial reform of merit, I think this was one of those "watch what we do, not what we say we do" performances.
Yes, I voted for him, but my vote is now up in the air.
+46 # Todd Williams 2011-12-07 14:50
"Shoeshine boy?" Man, that is a really bad analogy and kinda racist to boot. And how do you know only 1 in 1,000 citizens saw his speech? And if your vote is still up in the air after the last 3 years of Rethuglican obstructionisim , frankly I can't figure out what our President can do to please you. There are certain political realities he has to deal with. Since I became a liberal in the late 1960s, this is the very worst assault on our democracy I've seen. I will be a proud American to cast my vote for Barack Obama!
+28 # chick 2011-12-07 15:19
Good for you Todd Williams. I am with you and I am sure millions listened to this speech.

He has had three years of negatives thrown at him and a thousands no from this Congress of Thugs. Hopefully they will all be ousted and then he can really do much more than he has done.And he has done plenty but no credited given.
+9 # ABen 2011-12-07 16:25
Well said Todd!
+3 # RLF 2011-12-08 06:51
Have you been sleeping Todd? Didn't you notice the supply siders running the economy? Didn't you notice the lack of prosecutions for torturers, fraudulent bankers, and anyone other than leakers or protesters? Quit making excuses for the man when he talks good talks before an election and then spreads it around to his Free Market cronys. The man had two honeymoon years and used it to sign free trade agreements and checks to the military industrial complex. Alarms ringing...time to wake up, Todd.
+5 # Lolanne 2011-12-08 10:30
Folks, I don't think it has to be "either/or." Yes, there's a lot of hurt and disappointment with Obama during these past 3 yrs; there's so much of what he did and didn't do that I do not understand and will always wonder about. But look at the alternative -- a horror show!
I keep reminding myself that probably none of us knows exactly what Obama has been dealing with. There's what we want (fairness, justice, strong advocacy for the people, etc.) and there's the reality of DC: MONEY RULES and so many of our elected officials are simply dancing to the tune of the puppet masters. My cynical side wonders about this new Obama, who sounds suspiciously like candidate Obama, and whether this will last. But realistically, not voting for him is in essence voting for letting the THUGS back into the White House. No, absolutely we cannot do that. I think maybe OWS has stiffened O's backbone, given him the kind of support that has a chance to overcome all the big bucks the K St crowd so freely throw around. We need to vote out every obstructionist ReTHUG and every Blue Dog Dem, put Obama back into the WH with the best congress we can find to elect, keep OWS strong and active. Then maybe we can effect real, lasting CHANGE! NO ONE PERSON CAN DO IT ALONE.
+24 # jerryball 2011-12-07 16:36
So, you're going to vote for Newt???? Talk about touching the turd with bare hands....
+58 # kent 2011-12-07 12:05
Thank You, Professor Reich! This article should provide something of a manifesto to those of us Americans who disagree with the myopic views of the Right.
+3 # blinc 2011-12-07 12:09
It's amazing how gullible intellingent people can be. Yes, it was an excellent speech, but I see no reason to believe even one word of it. Where have you been for the last four years.
+15 # racetoinfinity 2011-12-07 13:33
This is unfortunately, quite true. I HOPE he has (had) an inner transformation, and walks the walk in the next term. Even if not (which will ensure more misery and protest among the 99%), I want these themes reiterated again and again during his campaign to be heard by people. I'll probably vote for him only as the LOTE, since the Repubs really do want to take us back to 1890, in many ways.
+32 # chick 2011-12-07 15:26
In many ways? In thousands and thousnds of ways.
get rid of SS and Medicare
get rid of Obamacare
get rid of Child labor laws
get rid of Roe versus Wade
get rid of all unions
get rid of public schools
get rid of minimum wage
get rid of Fema
get rid of half the government (so stock markets can contol the govenment)
get rid of public schools
get rid of college, poor and blacks from voting.
Get rid of a womans right to choose.
Oh yess I can go on and on.
0 # RLF 2011-12-08 06:54
The Republicans were able to stop Obama and that is why he gets a pass. The Dems would be able to stop any of these horrible things??? Got a problem with your perception here. Or maybe it is a problem with the Dems!!!
+1 # hasapiko 2011-12-07 13:41
I completely agree. Obama is a political cameleon. He Tuch licked the Republicans when that was expedient, now he's preaching progressivism because he needs to recapture the base he so spurned for the past 3 years.
+39 # Todd Williams 2011-12-07 14:53
He's been trying to fight the most obstructive, pig headed, stupid Rethuglican and TP attack ever leveled on a Liberal. You ought to be ashamed of yourself when you say you don't believe one word of his speech. Most of it is economic and historical fact. Period.
-3 # chick 2011-12-07 15:20
Actually so far its been three years. But then where have you been?
-5 # blinc 2011-12-08 11:11
It's been four years, going back to 2007-2008, where he obviously learned an important lessong -- you can fool enough of the people enough of the time to get (re)elected. He's doing it again.
+48 # MainStreetMentor 2011-12-07 12:17
I'm glad, and pleased, that he said what he did, and I agree with his words. My issue: Why didn't he do this two years ago? Better late than never? Maybe.
+3 # chick 2011-12-07 15:29
Maybe because he considered himself the President of all of the people and tried and tried to get along with the Repugs. I think he has finally learned they are a people (an animal) more of themselves and no one else.

The President has finally awakend. Thank God.
-2 # RLF 2011-12-08 06:56
+4 # CTPatriot 2011-12-08 06:35
He wasn't running for re-election 3 years ago. It was a great speech. So were many that he made during his 2008 campaign. I need to see actions match words. When that happens, I'll believe this speech is anything other than electoral manipulation of the masses.
+61 # Erdajean 2011-12-07 12:23
Pretty much what we heard to begin with. NOW may he stick to it -- and stick it to Congress.

Last week I and probably thousands of others received a "Merry Christmas" from CitiBank --- recipient of the largesse of U.S. taxpayers. This message was right to the point. The interest on our Exxon card will rise to 24.99 percent the first of the year. I'd had this card since 1977 and never missed a payment. No matter.

The customer can choose to refuse the new terms, the letter said, but refusal ends credit. Considering the vagaries of gas prices, credit can be the difference in getting to work or not.

This is, of course, usury -- an old term that USED to mean something bad. What we see here is that no matter the national anger, the vultures are doing business as usual. It will one day crash in on them, but they'll be so rich off our blood that it won't matter. They think!

Yes, it is time for Obama to say these things again. Above all, it is time overdue for him to MEAN them -- and act accordingly. For me, it means, Up Yours, CitiBank.
+30 # Todd Williams 2011-12-07 14:55
Good move. Up theirs for sure. By the way, do you recall that it was the EXON Valdez that created the nation's worst oil spill until BP's took top billing? Don't buy EXXON or BP gas, ever.
+16 # MEBrowning 2011-12-07 17:17
Good for you, Erdajean. I've had a Union76/Unocal card since 1977 that automatically became a Citibank MasterCard a couple of years ago. A few weeks back, I received a notice that my card is now being terminated. No reason was given, although I assume it's because I don't use it as often as they'd like and pay each balance in full. I, too, have been a sterling customer all these years. Big corporations like Citibank couldn't care less.
+58 # bugbuster 2011-12-07 12:31
I have held on to the hope that Obama has biding his time for a second term before he takes off the gloves. I think it's time for Obama to relentlessly use the bully pulpit to either send the GOP Congress members back where they came from or politically beat them into submission.
+20 # hwatt 2011-12-07 12:35
True, the Tea Party could have been left out except for the habit of unnecessary inclusion that seems to permeate and then saturate the President's message(s).
Like giving up concessions to the GOP before getting to the bargaining table.
Maybe that era has ended, but I fear it's still in the shadows.
+36 # Patch 2011-12-07 12:35
Could this really be a turning point for President Obama? Will he really come back to his roots and to the people who put him in office. I can only hope so.

I also hope that this message will ravage the Republican party and the Blue Dog Democrats and give rise to Progressive values.
+46 # Buddha 2011-12-07 12:40
This is the same soaring Progressive rhetoric that elected him and the Dems in 2008 in the first place, and if THAT wasn't a mandate, I don't know what is. And he hasn't done one single thing that matches previous rhetoric in his first term.

Does anybody really believe another mandate will actually get mainstream Dems and Obama to match this kind of Progressive rhetoric with real Change? There is a REASON the Congressional Progressive Caucus is a small minority of Dems in Congress...that the mainstream Democratic Party is a Center-Right party, they are GOP-lite...

Don't get me wrong, I'll be voting for Obama because the GOP alternative is by definition going to be terrible. But while Obama is great at Progressive rhetoric, when it comes to apparent courage of convictions in pushing for that better Progressive agenda, he just doesn't seem to have it. I hope I will be pleasantly surprised beginning 2013, but I just don't think so.
+14 # racetoinfinity 2011-12-07 13:34
I completely agree.
+26 # tonenotvolume 2011-12-07 12:43
Hopefully....wh at else is there to say? I'll be voting for him because of the alternatives, because he's accomplished more than most of us are willing to acknowledge, and because I'm still hopeful. But, he's going to need our help in dumping the regressive governors, crazy congressmen and women, and sold-out senators. As it stands, there is no viable Republican candidate. We need to help weed out the next levels down. Be proud to be a 99%er, make the 1% accountable, and VOTE.
+23 # BFree3 2011-12-07 12:47
Of course he is telling the truth, but I believed him once and he let me down. Is this just an other reelection tactic from a man who will do or say anything to get reelected. A lot of us told him this after he was inaugurated, and he just ignored us.
+22 # Todd Williams 2011-12-07 15:00
Don't give up the hope BFree3. Please. I spoke to Bernie Sanders on a radio show and I voiced the same opinion as you. He told me not to quit; not to give up on our dreams. He said fight on and stand with the President. He told me to help get new people elected to Congress. We must not quit because if we do we are all really in big trouble. You think it's bad now? What if the Rethugs take the Senate and the Presidency? Chew on that fat for a minute.
+4 # RLF 2011-12-08 07:03
If the Rethugs of the senate stopped all of the Liberal ideas Obama yearned for, why should we worry...the dems will be able to stop everything the Rethugs do...right??? That this doesn't work shows the problem with the Dem. Party. Time to throw the Blue dogs out of the party. I won't be paying the dem. party to help their campaigns.
+15 # Suavane 2011-12-07 12:48
Dear Dr. Reich,

With all due respect, I disagree with your assesment and analysis of the President. The President has been steadfast in his support for middle-class growth since day one. He has, since day one, been oppossed by both Republicans, and earlier, "Blue Dog" Democrats, in both the Senate and House. He's been put in a position to compromise with his opponents in order to get something done. In doing so, it seemed as if he was not standing up to them. Quietly, we find most of the "Blue Dog" Democrates gone and in their place, more Progressive replacements. Yesterday I read right here in RNS, that there are laws that kick in now that help the middle-class even more, and that just might turn this health-care law toward the direction of "Single Payer" Insurance. Something the President wanted from the beginning. In "lumping the Tea Party with Occupy Wall Street protesters" he wasn't suggesting that they were one and the same, rather, that even dissperate groups are protesting against the statis quo! And to this end Dr. Reich, the President is right. By November's election, we all will see that the President is on the right side of America's values and history. He IS the voice for our better angels!
+14 # hasapiko 2011-12-07 14:24
Really Suavane?
He's been "put into a position to compromise"? Compromise? Let's see... he completely caved on the Bush taxes. He completely caved to the banks. He's outdone the Republicans on an aggressive war policy, including indescriminate drone attacks. He reneged on Guantanamo. His Justice dept has not prosecuted one bankster, even as the evidence is mounting that they knew and permitted unsafe lending practices. Obamacare is a joke. I'll believe the medical loss provisions will hurt the insurance companies when I see it. Yes, Obama is the voice for the angels. I would describe him more accurately as the spineless windbag for the angels. Last but not least, I will start to believe in Obama when he actually stands up for a single piece of progressive legislation that isn't tarred over with "compromise" - even if it means political defeat. Obama is not a loser. He is an "afraid to be a loser". In other words, he is a politician.
+12 # jonahsbud 2011-12-07 12:48
What I just read pretty well hits for me,
only how do we get past all of the roadblocks being erected by the privileged
few? Now their's a question that I believed must be addressed. Ira D. York
+32 # MainStreetMentor 2011-12-07 12:49
Very truthful. To the point(s). His words hit the nerve-center of his audience (both locally and nationally). I believe in the message - but I also had believed in his message during his first campaign. His words, while ringing true, are worthless unless legislation and supporting actions are followed through - and actual, meaningful implementation of the changes of which he spoke ... take place.
0 # Suavane 2011-12-07 12:51
OOPS! I meant RSN in my comment.
+33 # noitall 2011-12-07 12:52
The great thing about Obama is that he can articulate clearly the problems. He did that during his first campaign. He gave us the audacity to HOPE. Sadly, I ended up reluctantly feeling worse about him because of what he was (or wasn't) doing , knowing that he clearly understood the issues and where we should go. Was he torn between loyalty to those of us who voted for the platform and loyalty to those who paid for his victory? Money seemed to win out. I pray for more 'bombs' to emerge as has in the health bill, we anxiously await the final outcome on that. Are there other ticking slights-of-hand that we'll see with time that fulfill his campaign promises? Will the wars actually go away? will oil become a thing of the past? will EPA be strengthened and the planet's destruction abate? will the Federal Reserve be no more? will we become a govt. of, by, and for the People? Will his second term be the change that will save the Republic? We vote for Barack because he says what is in our hearts. Will he break them again in his second term? Do we have a choice? Must we have the audacity to have faith?
0 # X Dane 2011-12-09 00:51
noitall, that is quite a "laundry list" We are many, who want Obama to win. And I think in his speech he just laid out, the blue print for what he wants to work on in his second term.
Sinse he is not going to run again, he can be his own man so to speak.

But to accomplish all on your list he would not need to be president. He would need to be GOD.
Also the republicans are NOT GOING AWAY.
They will be itching to take it all back in 2016, so WE ALL need to do what we can. And try to find talented people to run in 16. This is not over, if we win next year.

It is the beginning of hopefully getting the country in a better shape. To that end we MUST try to get the money out of politics.
+3 # Above God 2011-12-07 12:54
+12 # m... 2011-12-07 12:57
I don't know whether to scream or pull my hair out or both...

This is a case of either----




If Obama loses the election, chances are high that all is lost and the Republic will fold into something else.
If Obama wins the election, maybe all is lost and the Republic folds into something else.
Because, his entire history as a President is one of constant compromise just as if the 'Center' is not ten thousand miles to the left from where he has been operating as Chief Executive (and Chief Compromiser) in his give-away dealings with CONservatives who always come forth with a singular objective
----- Their Panacea------
+21 # diacad 2011-12-07 12:58
Reich is a brilliant man who should know by now that Obama is like a typical Chicago street hawker and master of misdirection. Watch what he does, not what he says. We need another choice, but the "Democratic" party is not allowing it, nor running any meaningful primaries. As in so many times in the past, we will be voting AGAINST something, not FOR anything.
+30 # 2011-12-07 13:05
I would lile to see him provide attribution to the GOP for the mess we are in.

His speech could have benefited from the following:

"When I came into office, I inherited an economy that was not just on the brink of Niagara Falls, but headlong plunging almost to the rocks below, driven there by the unbridled greed and reckless deregulation that the Republicans have the gall still today to claim as 'fiscal prudence' and 'the way to get the economy going again.' Yes, it will get the economy going again--right back over Niagara Falls.

"It was only because we put into place extraordinary measures that we stopped the ship of state smashing onto the rocks, and what you have seen in these past three years is the very difficult process of pulling the economy back up the Falls. And, no, we are not yet in some safe harbor miles upstream, enjoying the rapid growth and low unemployment and massive budget surpluses that my Republican predecessor inherited. But remember: the Bush years of greed and recklessness, of his 'trickle-down-t o-the-poor/gush -up-to-the-rich ' policies, pulled us out of the safe harbor and plunged us nearly to the rocks: and they want to do it again. DON'T LET THEM."
-2 # X Dane 2011-12-09 01:10
DFrenkel, That was quite a mouthful and would have felt great, to say it, and it would have had the republicans screaming bloody murder, worse he would have turned OFF the independent voters, we certainly need.
One thing is what we would really love, ......another what will WORK.
We want to WIN the election, not make the republicans go crazy.
+19 # goodsensecynic 2011-12-07 13:10
Would you give it up on the Luddites?

The Luddites were the Occupy movement of 1811 ... except that they were hung on the gallows for their trouble, not just subjected to perrer spray.

Like Lemmings and Cynics (also consciously misrepresented by the rhetorical right), they merely opposed the inequities of the existing order.

Lemmings do not commit mass suicide. They find themselves in environmentally unsustainable circumstances and strike out for the "other" shore.

Cynics encourage self-reliance, simplicity of life and opposition to political and economic elites; they are the opposite of the misanthropists who the politico-plutoc rats claim them to be. Want a real cynic? Check out the Buddha, Christ (according to some tellings) and St. Francis.

And Luddites? They never opposed technological innovation. They just asked that the benefits of labor-saving devices be equitably spread. At least, they said, hand-loom weavers should be re-trained.

It's time to join hands! Let Lemmings, Cynics and Luddites combine ... not that we'd win, but as Richard Hooker said in the 16th century, at least "posterity may know we did not, loosely through silence, let things slip away, as in a dream."
+35 # shortonfaith 2011-12-07 13:22
Well, the campaign speeches are starting to gear up again. How come this guy wasn't pepper strayed & dragged off to jail? He just repeated the same message the 99%s have been saying for months. Welcome to America Mr President, is this change we can believe in? Personally, I'll believe it when folks start going to jail for the trillions of American tax dollars they've stolen already. I want all the money placed back, in the treasury, with interest.

Did you hear today Massey got off killing 29 coal miners last year. Fishing isstill dead in the Gulf & radiation is falling on the west coast while we plan construction of more Nuke plants & pollution pipelines across the middle of our nation. Talk, talk, talk, talk. I've been listening to people talk for 30 years while they've sent others through the crowd, picking our pockets. I'll only believe this when I see police taking the real thieves to jail, after receiving the same justice the pot smoker gets. Not just more pepper spraying the crowd to distract you from more pick-pockets.

I hope I'm not the first comment.
+9 # hasapiko 2011-12-07 14:32
You go shorty. We need less faith and "hope" and more putting politician's feet to the fire. Johnson implemented the Great Society after African Americans burned down Watts. That seems to be the only kind of leverage we have left now that the Prez and Congress have been bought and paid for by the rich.
0 # X Dane 2011-12-09 01:21
hasapico. NO he did it before. I remember feeling bad for Johnson. He had just done something great, the voting acts rights. And then all hell brakes loose. That's what happens when people loose hope. Riots like Watts usually happenin the hot summers in the inner city.
+6 # Todd Williams 2011-12-07 15:06
So what are you going to do about this corner you say we are painted into? Revolution? Anarchy? I'm really curious as to what your solution is to this quandry.
+11 # Pikewich 2011-12-07 13:29
The problem for me is this.

Obama has known this all along. Yet he has consistently screwed the middle class. He is a little too transparent.

He has known all this every time he agrees to policies making the rich richer and the rest of us paying for their crimes.

He has known all this while he keeps people incarcerated in military gulags around the world with no recourse, for ever.

He has known all this while he allows for suspected terrorists to be tortured under the expanded extreme rendition policies he learned from his predecessor.

He has known all this while he allows for more prosecutions of whistle blowers of governmental wrong doing than ever before.

He has known all this while he allows more illegal immigrants to be deported than ever before, while knowing our "fair trade" policies are destroying their home economies.

Mister double faced politician, you do not have my vote this time. I do not trust you any more.
+5 # Pikewich 2011-12-07 17:34
Oh, one more thing. While fiddling with his rhetoric, Africa is burning, Tuvalu is drowning and according to MIT climate scientists, 5 years and it is game over for us humans due to irreversible climate change.

Voting for the lesser of evils won't work any more. We still get evil "leaders".
-4 # bealss 2011-12-07 22:47
Do you think Obama might have expected some actual support from the Democrats in Congress?
+1 # RLF 2011-12-08 07:09
He might have exercised some actual leadership!
+8 # jmillay 2011-12-07 13:36
I am grateful that Obama has spelled out the problem and the path to recovery. The Republicans and some Democrats have sold out to corporate rule completely. Government agencies, such as the DEA, the FDA, the FCC, etc., have been sold out to corporate rule, and provide lies and propaganda to promote their own self interests...on tax payer money.
Where is truth? We need a strong media that can tell it. But much of the media and talk shows have also been bought and paid for to enhance and preach corporate rule.
I have no money, but I can sign petitions. You can count on me for that.
I also have made available -- a free download on -- a plan to get the pharmaceutical drug pushers out of our schools of education, and use bio/neurofeedba ck to give the personal power of health back to the individual. This can cut healthcare costs greatly in the near future.
+15 # 2011-12-07 13:40
I so agree with those people who want to hold Barack's feet to feet to the fire and insist on results not nice speeches. We need leadership not campaign speeches. Don't be gullible people. Insist of results or deal with Barack like every other opportunist. At this moment we have far more negative evidence of Barack's inability to connect his words to actions than we did before the last election. Don't fall for it.
+15 # davegowdey 2011-12-07 13:42

After three years of abject surrender to the conservatives, of failing to fight for a single progressive idea, of telling liberals to stop whining - now he's decided he wants to try sounding like a progressive. Even then he couldn't do it completely - throwing the Tea Party into a message about restoring the middle class is like throwing a message about the SS into talk about reducing antisemitism. The problem is that if he really meant any of this stuff he'd give Geithner and the rest of his trickle down economists the heave ho. Because he isn't - it leads me to believe this is just more talk and lies. Like the change he promised. He could have been a leader for the 99%, instead he's been a janitor for the 1% - trying to clean up their messes without changing anything.
+14 # banichi 2011-12-07 13:45
I agree with most of what is said by the commentators. I love Reich's analysis and ability to pick out the important issues from the lies and misdirection, but I have a strong dislike of what happened after I voted for Obama in 2008. "Bombs" or not, I do not trust him to carry through on what he promises. Will he in a 2nd term? Sorry, but I just don't believe it.

He can nail the issue in his speech, but that did not mean anything last time and I have serious doubt it will in a 2nd term. I feel betrayed, yes, and while I expect I may vote for him as a "least of the evils" I don't believe anything better will come of it than we have seen for 4 years. Letting Geithner go anywhere but to a jail cell is a crime in itself. Same for Bernanke.

Question is, where is Obama's campaign funding coming from this time around?
+7 # racetothebottom 2011-12-07 13:57
Robert Reich continues on rewriting history--first as the number apologist for Bill Clinton as president and now Obama in my opinion.

Not too long ago I listened to an Obama speech where he said he believed that if Aemricans just worked hard enough they would advance and to basically keep the faith. Now that Occupy Wall Street has revealed gross inequities in America, Obama is singing a different tune.

Next Reich blames government regulators for failing to crack down on banks and Alan Greenspan. Never does he mention that President Clinton failed to ignore the warnings of Brooksley Bourn, his own appointee, (See PBS The Warning) who was attempting to investigate the banks and their derivatives. Instead, Bill Clinton sided with Alan Greenspan, a Goldman Sach's CEO and Citigroup. And let us not forget it was Clinton himself who reappointed Alan Greenspan. All this federal policy happened under Clinton's administration. And that is when Glass Steagall was overturned. Reich blithely skips through the NAFTA's Clinton pushed through which helped to break America's social contract with his workers.

Yes, Reich selectively reports and interprets history in my opinion. First with Clinton and now Obama.
-2 # PeterAttwood 2011-12-07 14:01
That anyone sees any significance in this speech is astonishing. The Barack Obama is 2008 is back, because it's 2012, election time again. He's a smart guy. He knows that the betrayal of the hopes of those who voted for him would profoundly alienate people, and knowing this, did so with calculation. He has systematically destroyed the foundations of constitutional government and civil liberties. He is charming, as psychopaths usually are. And if this psychopath charms himself into anothert term, the first term will appear restrained. Bush was no worse than this guy, and whatever stupid Republican takes his place, there's no reason to think he will be any worse. Ron Paul would be better; at least he believes in the Bill of rights and due process, and opposes aggressive war and empire.
-2 # Todd Williams 2011-12-07 15:11
OMG! This is the worst drivel I've ever seen on this site. Where do you get this crap? "He is charming, as psychopaths usually are?" Where in the hell did you get this unique analysis of Obama? Unbelievable!
+7 # hasapiko 2011-12-07 16:50
OK, maybe that is too extreme. I would substitute "politician" for psychopath. And, his second term would be just like his first - spineless.
+15 # michelle 2011-12-07 16:00
Ron Paul does not believe in a woman's right to control her own body, he is anti choice along with anti social security, medicare, and any government safety net. He would abolish the EPA and other watchdog agencies. He may be right about the war but he is so wrong on so many issues. Ron Paul is a neoliberal, the real free marketeer, who would prefer to see the uninsured die in the street rather than provide any sort of assistance. Let's hope the uninsured don't have anything like drug resistant TB. We should be a community promoting the well being of all our citizens rather than the ugly 'roughshod individualism' promoted by the followers of Any Rand. At best Ron Paul is mean spirited and at worst he represents the Ayn Rand vision of the world where life is as the saying goes, 'nasty, brutish and short.' He does appear to fool lots of people.
+1 # Doubter 2011-12-07 20:38
+6 # Buddha 2011-12-08 12:53
Anybody who names his son after Ayn Rand isn't a friend of the poor or Middle-class, and would further push the same deregulation and laissez-faire capitalism that has ballooned our income/wealth disparity and created the Great Recession
+16 # Justina 2011-12-07 14:21
We all know that President Obama is an eloquent and charismatic speaker. But, as we have seen, after he became President Obama rather than candidate Obama, he betrayed all his campaign promises.

Rather than fighting the corporate corruption that had destroyed our economy, by looting our jobs, our houses and our human dignity, he turned our economy over to the same guys who had done the looting.

Obama and his Justice Department have not put the big looters in jail, but have giving them more free hand-outs from American taxpayers.

Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner and the Federal Reserve have given trillions to the big banks, while doing virtually nothing to aid the middle class folks who have lost their jobs and homes, thanks to the criminal bankers.

I judge President Obama, not by his eloquent words, but by his past acts. I find that his policies are no different than those of President George Bush, in some cases, they are worse.

Now that he is running for office again, he uses the words of Occupy Wall Street to make it appear he support the 99%. But, at the same time, he looks to his big bank and corporate donors to fill his campaign chest.

The big banks and corporations own President Obama, they bought him. Until we take private money out of our elections, we will never have a president who really represents the 99%.
-3 # jerryball 2011-12-07 16:41
...and the alternate is??? Be careful what you wish for, girl.
+3 # Okieangels 2011-12-07 16:57
Amen. Time to vote Green Party any time it's possible.
-1 # perkinsej 2011-12-07 14:35
I wholeheartedly agree with most of this analysis .... but, but when I visit the shopping malls and take a look at the fancy cars in the parking lots and see the multitude of retail outlets, I start to think that Americans, in general, have too much money to speend. Kids have too many toys. These stories about the hurting and vanishing middle class do not ring true with me. Still we do have too many who are truly impoverished and that we need to fix.
+10 # jerryball 2011-12-07 16:43
Asleep in suburbia. All those shiny pretties are not paid for. Massive debts are our problem. Stick your head outside your comfort zone once in awhile.
+3 # RLF 2011-12-08 07:13
My 'shiny pretty' is 1986.
+5 # Carolyn 2011-12-07 15:00
This time Obama's rhetoric and promises are a lullaby. All is well. Go back to sleep.Dream on.

The current danger is nuclear war, starting in the Middle East, then extending into the area of the Pacific. All those countries that are once again our enemies. When will we learn that the horror of war is no longer an option.
+2 # jerryball 2011-12-07 16:39
Okay. ZZzzzzz. What happened? Newt as President pushing the final nail in the Republic's coffin. JC wept while We slept.
+3 # hasapiko 2011-12-07 16:52
Completely agree. Obama/Clinton have demonstrated that they fall right into the hands of the Israelis in their belligerence towards Iran. Who knows what Obama is capable of. It is the spineless who tend to be overly aggressive in compensation.
+1 # mikeharvey1 2011-12-07 15:55
The words are there... and that is heartening. But the words have been there before, and that past 3 years have clearly demonstrated that the President must fight for these principles. They cannot be achieved by negotiated compromise.

We, as citizens, must realize that we have to back up our convictions on Election Day by turning out and VOTING.

The Republicans have fooled the populace into voting AGAINST these principles with a slick, simple-minded ideology that is endlessly repeated in the paid and public media.

The President is telling it like it really is. Let's all listen... and ACT on it in the upcoming election.
+6 # HerbR 2011-12-07 16:14
Yes, Prof. Reich, I liked it, too, as much as you did. BUT it's doubtful that is was "the most important" speech BHO has given, or is likely to give.
He has chosen to be loyal to his pre-presidentia l convictions, in expectation that we who have been waiting for it during the years of "compromise politics", are having our wishes come true and will thank the Genie coming November
+2 # ABen 2011-12-07 16:24
Mr. Reich's analysis of the speech is both accurate and thoughtful. Now here are some thoughts for the comments that are posted here.
First, the president cannot legislate by himself, our constitution guarantees that Congress, those people we vote into office, has to craft bills and pass legislation. This a duty that Congress has, in large part, been unable or unwilling to do for the past three years. Remember, he is only the President, not a king.
Second, if we don't like the umbilical connection between Congress and K-Street, we need to change the way we fund elections. As long as it cost millions of dollars to run for office, candidates will have to find the money somewhere.
Third, skepticism is a mature and healthy reaction to the dynamics of an uncertain world in which motives are very difficult to ascertain. Cynicism is the reaction of an immature mind to the realization that it is an imperfect world that is often disappointing to the idealist.
Finally, for those of you who really think that a third party is the answer to all our problems, take a look at how that worked out in the 2000 election.
I am not an apologist for Obama--he has made mistakes and I take him to account for those mistakes. But I try to live in and with the real world no matter how imperfect, harsh and illogical it is. At this point in time, Obama is the best hope Liberals/Progre ssives have of seeing any semblance of sanity restored to this Democracy.
0 # X Dane 2011-12-09 01:45
Thank God, ABen sanity and reason has not totally disappeared. Let's get to work
+10 # mconnel5 2011-12-07 16:25
I no longer care what Obama says. What he does or doesn't matters. And maybe I missed it but just what has he proposed? What concrete action has he committed to? Help me out here.

He hasn't proposed indicting banksters, that's for sure and less than that means continuing impunity by them.
+3 # bealss 2011-12-07 22:45
I expect to see some Spring indictments of bankers.
+4 # jerryball 2011-12-07 16:35
"I wish the Obama administration had made this a condition for the banks receiving bailouts."
This is just another Superman Obama theories put out by Idiots Galore. The bailout terms were signed, sealed and delivered by the Bush Administration months before Obama took office. I'm so tired of these American Idiots blaming everything for everybody on Obama. He inherited a shiteload of worms when he took office. I think he has done the best that could be done with the broken-down system the GOP left for the next president, which just happened to be Obama.
+10 # hasapiko 2011-12-07 17:06
No Jerry, Obama did not do the best he could. Obama demonstrated time and again that he is beholden to Wall Street, just like all the pols bought and paid for
-4 # larry, dfh 2011-12-07 17:50
+8 # panamericans 2011-12-07 18:29
Obama is not presidential material. He is a profound disappointment.

What we need is a dark horse candidate who has the charisma and drive to lead this Country away from this Second Great Depression.

What this Country also needs is a preferential voting system to make third parties viable. In that way we can genuinely voice our protest votes.Instead of the nonsense of being forced to vote for a candidate (Obama)as being the lesser of two evils. This is not a good system to express the genuine wishes of the people

With the present system, a third party is a 'splinter party' and the protest votes are lost.In other words, a dissatisfied Democrat who votes for a third party actually takes a vote away from the Democrats in the Republicans favor..

The Democratic and Republican parties know this as a fact of life, hence the political oligopoly of 'business as usual'.
+1 # 2011-12-07 22:35
Good comment! Panamericans.
+10 # John Gill 2011-12-07 18:42
I wonder if these comments above offer a fair representation of what progressives, in general, are thinking.
Some of us here are singing praises for Obama's words and, it seems to me, in denial as regards his actions. In September of this year,referencin g the U.S. department of agriculture, CNN reported that in the last two years, in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Little Rock, doctors said the numbers of malnourished children had doubled. Obama isn't Santa Claus. He cannot drop sacks of food down chimneys, but his inactions, those speeches he might have made, those cabinet postings he might have insisted upon, those investigations by the justice department into the criminal activities of wall street profiteers he could have requested, or to some degree initiated, are, I think, the proof in the pudding. His speech in Kansas was a stump speech. Stump speeches are the man's forte. He is wonderfully inspirational. He sends thrills up Chris Mathews' leg. But I have come to believe that he, and any candidate of either of our two parties who makes it through the primaries and eventually into the oval office is in the pocket of the corporatocracy. The corporations are running this country. Any vote for either the Republican, or the Democratic candidate is a vote for continued corporate rule. A third party candidate will not win. This is true. This time. But until enough of us demand a real voice, there will be only the illusion of change.
+5 # 2011-12-07 22:38
Great comment, John Gill and Aben is right. We need to stop the Big Money spending in elections.
+7 # reiverpacific 2011-12-07 18:47
Ok, so in a way, I don't blame those of you who are cynical.
Now it's time to hold his feet to the fire, remind him of this speech every day until and after the next elections, get a huge screen teleprompter with this showing every time he speaks -and at the Repug' appearances and rallies too, until it sticks.
I wonder if the OWS mass has done something to influence this new (hopefully sincere) acknowledgment of the times speech?
I really think this might be a true sign of a good man who has finally had enough of patty-cake with the baddies.
We'll see but keep reminding him and hounding him.
How about starting with huge banners of "LESS MILITARY", "MORE INFRASTRUCTURE" , "HIGH-SPEED RAIL", "GREEN FUEL", UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE" and so on every time he emerges from the W.H.?
Opportunity knocks, what?
+6 # CandH 2011-12-07 20:22
Quoting reiverpacific:

I wonder if the OWS mass has done something to influence this new (hopefully sincere) acknowledgment of the times speech?

It should. His $1Billion campaign chest is paying for all of it, and Otpor's invaluable CIA/bankster backed assistance, of course. Even WH insider Carl Bernstein said on tele "the White House has got something BIG planned for 2012."

One suggestion: reinstate Glass-Steagall, and THAT would have saved him taking $999million from the banksters, making his election a landslide and not a "he's found God" joke.

But alas, it's not just about the US, as Europe, the ME/Asia, and Africa are all on fire per the banksters requests. And he is unconditionally their golden calf in those ongoing endeavors...but shock and awe isn't expected until after the election kids...bumpy hell ahead...
+2 # wfalco 2011-12-07 19:09
Funny how the Republicans define "Nationalism. " And it is not Mr. Reich's definition."The ir" definition is regarding military power and empire. This is such a big part of their appeal to middle aged and older white males.
But if a Liberal like Mr. Reich uses the term "New Nationalism" for the good of the working/middle class or common man- it will be demonized. It will be compared,undoub tedly, to more Liberal-Democra t social engineering-onl y because the intent is to HELP PEOPLE with jobs and a way to feed their families. The Repubs are always attempting to fool the working class with their jingoistic rhetoric-their definition of "Nationalism." I hope every day that the common/working class man who has been fooled so often in the past "won't get fooled again."
-1 # cypress72 2011-12-07 19:11
When is President Obama going to complain about the contracts for baseball players and not just CEOs and those on Wall Street. There were a couple of deals in the news this week where multi-million dollar contracts were signed and not a peep from the White House. It's always Wall Street. And how about the movie stars who make millions per picture?? Do these people pay their fair share, and more importantly, are they truly that important to our society compared with teachers, fire fighters and the police?? I dare say not.
+4 # bealss 2011-12-07 22:43
Raising the tax rate of the wealthiest 1% would certainly include athletes and movie stars. The folks you mention are outrageously overpaid and should make a proper and substantial contribution to the folks who, after all, ultimately pay their salaries. However they are not generally examples of the folks who have manipulated the economic system through legislative treachery. Though perhaps there are some K Street lobbyists for the major sporting and film corporations.
-4 # Doubter 2011-12-07 23:31
Come-on! Don't go after the Kardashians and Magic Johnson's. A few people have been smart and/or lucky and WE even PAY them as role models, .(even if you/I aren't fans)
Our first priority is the guys running the banks that ARE STILL screwing us; second: 'punish' (get even with) the one's that stole our money and try to get some of it back; not go on an "envy crusade" against anyone luckier or smarter than "you/me." That is a DISTRACTION. Are you trying to 'misdirect?'
I can't, try as I might, empathize with the idea that the president should even consider, much less enforce a cap on individual earnings. - at least not below a billion dollars a year, enough to allow for the existence of a leisure class we all could at least aspire to should we choose to engage in "the American Dream?"
+1 # Alcuin 2011-12-07 19:44
More empty rhetoric from the silver-tongued back-stabber. Obama's had almost three years to make a speech like this. He'd doing so now because he's running for re-election. Unfortunately, Reich, who is usually sharper than this, is falling for Obama's gift of gab again. Obama did these kinds of speeches when he was running in 2008 and he's doing them again. Don't be fooled - ain't nothing gonna change in his second term. You read it here first.
+4 # Stephen 2011-12-07 21:18
I wish I could believe that Obama has finally now rallied the inner courage save us from corporate mega-predation. But I can't really believe it. I can't help but see this as the other Obama, the Campaigner. And as one can see in some of the comments, (e.g. "silver-tongued backstabber"), that leaves us tending to the bitter and angry. He doesn't literally have time to do all that he'd need to do to outweigh what he's already done on the other side of the scales. Maybe we are supposed to be satisfied that at least the POTUS is saying good things, and not be so demanding as to want him actually to do them- that's what his cabinet has basically been telling us- be quiet, it's complicated, he's doing the best possible, send money.
-5 # HerbR 2011-12-07 21:25
It sure is pleasant to discover that a few people here and there know that the presidency is not a SantaClaus of public policy making; that there is and adversarial Congress, combative interest groups, a threatening Supreme Court, as well as any number of other obstacles which (who) stand in the way. That is not to speak of the power of moneyed groups working constantly at reshaping the base of ALL public power, called public opinion.
So our man really did very well, day by day. Salutes are in order, instead of ideological nitpicking.
+3 # sj-ias 2011-12-07 21:27
Reich frames the problem as a breaking of a basic contract, to link pay increases for the middle class to productivity gains in the economy. Sounds nice, but how does that happen exactly? He doesn't explain. Economist James Galbraith has been clearer on this point than Robert Reich. When marginal tax rates on the very wealthy were high, executives declined raises that would be taxed away by Uncle Sam. This left money on the table for middle class Americans. The moment Reagan cut the marginal tax rates for the executive elite, these same executives turned against their middle class employees, froze their wages, and fattened their own salaries, again and again and again. This won't stop till marginal tax rates for the top 0.1% are again at seventy percent. Do that, and we fix a big chunk of the inequality problem.
+1 # Bucky6 2011-12-07 21:30
Banichi and others have nailed the issue:
We will judge Obama Administration by what it does not what it says.

My feeds got me the Speech at:, Huffington Post with Reich and Lakoff articles posted, this link supplied by my friend Hank Stone.

Polya, "How to Solve It", says you have to "understand the problem", ask "what is the unknown".

IMO, OWS is spot on: (and witness poor MSMedia coverage).
Also, I believe the reality of AE911 truth that WTC was controlled demolition.
Also, see the reality of foul play by power elite in the Kennedy assassination.

Such cognition --- who shares it? ---
taints my political analysis.
Norbert Wiener wrote of "Belling the Cat"
and the frightful corruption of homeostasis caused by corrupt media -- that in-the-large corporate forces get away with behavior that'd never be tolerated in-the-small.

As to understanding the "unknown":
"We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die."
W.H. Auden
+2 # bealss 2011-12-07 22:36
Great speech and the right direction. But we should not forget that the Boards of Directors and shareholders of our major multi-national corporations have been negligent bu not requiring that the institutions they benefit from financially need to be responsible to their workers, the environment and society in general. We must insist corporations - having been given the status of "people" - take on the responsibility that comes with that status. Of what profit are dividends when the economy is going to hell and people are - quite literally -starving in the richest land in the world? We need to shake up the corporations as well as the government. If they refuse to defend this nation, let's dismantle them and replace them with institutions who can be responsible to the whole nation and not just a powerful few stakeholders. We are all stakeholders.
+4 # spercepolnes 2011-12-08 01:20
Talk is cheap - actions speak louder than words in his case.
-6 # carioca 2011-12-08 02:31
He is such a great speaker. Did he even have a teleprompter, or was it all adlib?
-4 # forparity 2011-12-08 11:43
Are you kidding? He never speaks w/o the teleprompter. Not even when he sets up in a classroom with 2nd graders. Over and over again when it went down - he gets completely hoodwinked.

Clinton and Reagan are the ones who really had the gift of speaking. Remember when they keyed up the wrong State of the Union speech for Clinton on the tele, and he adlibbed the entire piece - one of his best.
+2 # 666 2011-12-08 06:40
It's the Same Old Sh.. folks! Look at his track record and stop listening to the pretty words. Reich was one of the last big-name bloggers to give up on obama and one of the first ones to come crawling back. Are we that desperate? Flush the golden beltway toilet!

Let me add 2 further insights that Reich misses:
"Only when this coping mechanism was exhausted [...] did Americans shift to credit cards and home equity loans"
-- he's blurring 2 decades of economic history into a simplistic answer. Credit cards only became _widely_ available (and were then pushed) as a mass-debt instrument in the late 70s as a way to "create" money. Home equity loans came out big time in the 90s.

"it leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them - that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans."
-- OK, read the sentence people "rightly suspicious"... just suspicious? what other evidence of culpability do we need? The facts are there, are you telling me, mr president, that my suspicions are wrong? That I'M deluded? That washington hasn't sold out? Liar, Liar, pants on fire!
- to paraphrase: "you shall know them by their deeds, not by their words"
-1 # alanterentiv 2011-12-08 08:02
The Dems controlled the house and the senate for 1 1/2 years. Why didn't more get done? Fear of inflation? Because Dems,too , are controlled by the bankers? One could certainly argue that they didn't want to over-do it with the stimulus, and besides, 2 years is barely enough time to see what effect the stimulus would have. Also, in regards to the mortgage mess, it has taken at least a little time to sift through the facts, so there is a valid excuse there. Unfortunately, now that we know the facts, the Repubs are in.
I think Obama could help the economy by granting pardons to anybody who defaults on a loan right now. The banks would then be forced to admit that they over leveraged their capital and that people cannot possibly pay back money that literally does not exist.
And even more important than the economy- how about standing up for integrity? Obama could get my vote if he gave a Presidential pardon to Bradley Manning. If Bush can pardon a real honest-to-God traitor like Scooter Libby, then Obama can pardon an honest-to-God hero like Manning.
-4 # forparity 2011-12-08 11:54
The Dems controlled the house and the Senate for 4 straight years - the last 2 years under Bush and the first 2 years under Obama.

You might note that during those two years under Obama, when they controlled the entire show - Speaker Pelosi never even allowed a vote to come up on passing a federal budget. The US operated for those two years w/0 a budget (spent like crazy though). This year, under R leadership, the house passed a budget - but Senate Majority leader Morman Reid, refused to allow it to come up for a vote in the Senate. 3 years without a federal budget.

Anyone remember the POTUS pounding on congress to pass a budget?

+2 # Liz G 2011-12-08 08:28
After the savings and loan fiasco federal agents made over 10,000 referrals for criminal prosecution of the banksters involved. But since the bank bail out of 2008 that was 70 times greater than the savings and loan fiasco, there have been zero referrals for criminal prosecution. Zero. If Obama means what he says about our ongoing financial crisis, why does his administration do nothing to make the banksters abide by the law and be accountable to the American people?
+3 # fishskicanoe 2011-12-08 09:09
Obama needs to have an active Left making progressive arguments in the public arena in order to move left himself. No politician can do all the lifting by himself. If we, the Left, can create public support for leftist policies then they will get the attention of the political class. But if we leave the field open and uncontested for the Teabaggers, corporations and Fox News true believers then there is no way that Obama can move to the left.

We have to understand that part of the problem lies with us. When Van Jones was forced out by the corporofacists, where were the demonstrations against those who did the forcing? When health care legislation was pushed to the right by the insurance and pharma industries where was the massive response to those actions... responses that should have been directed at the corporations?

Its always going to be harder for the anti-corporate left to be heard. Corporations have been consolidating their media power for decades. Those who serve the corporate agenda, like the Tea Party, will always get preferential treatment and exposure. We, as Leftists, need to work twice as hard to make our presence felt. If we're not willing to work twice as hard and twice as effectively then there is no reason why any politician should listen to us.
-5 # forparity 2011-12-08 11:48
Too bad he had to stretch truth to make his points - but then would the be points if he didn't usually stretch the truth?

His paper, the WaPost, fact checked it a bit (probably should have done more):

Yikes - 3 Pinocchios

The review, there, also includes some rather fair analysis of those issues.
0 # m... 2011-12-08 16:37
Can anyone point to an actual act or demonstration of LEADERSHIP Obama ever engaged in during his time as POTUS..?
+1 # alanterentiv 2011-12-09 11:52
It was the Grand Poobah of republicans, Dick Cheney, who said "...Reagan proved that deficits don't matter". So it's typically hypocritical of republicans to keep railing on this deficit issue, especially given the true culpability of both parties regarding budgets. I happen to agree with Cheney. The banking system is an unsustainable ponzi scheme anyway, so play their game by borrowing money, and then just default. Set it all back to zero. That must be the eventual outcome anyway.
+3 # bedleysmutler 2011-12-09 12:31
"Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008." And when he turns on us again, we can say "Where, finally, is the Obama we thought we had elected in 2012" --- Fool me once . . .
+4 # colvictoria 2011-12-09 18:46
Brilliant speech! That is what Obama is good at. It is enticing, riveting, exciting, makes you want to vote for him again. I will not be voting for a man whose policy is to deport as many as 400,000 illegal immigrants every year. Separating mothers and fathers from their children. I will not vote for a man with a Nobel Peace prize who trespasses another country's borders to go in for a kill or uses drones to kill a man and his teenage son. I will not vote for a man who participated in the assassination of a 70 year old leader who ruled a nation for 42 years. A nation that is now in shambles after NATO strikes and whose new government is lynching and slaughtering Black Africans. What would Obama's Kenyan father think about that?
They say Obama is being controlled, manipulated, threatened that his hands are tied and he cannot really be true to his heart and soul because the ones who really rule won't allow it. Then I say if Obama wants to do good work and be true to his mind body and spirit then he should leave the White House to the demons who control it. Let us not forget it is the WHITE house!
0 # MacZeg 2011-12-10 14:30
What are you going to do? Elect Gingrich? Romney? I was down on Obama until I read about the "bomb" in Obamacare (in Forbes) that went into effect Dec. 7th, requiring health insurers to spend 80-85% of the premiums on actual health care. That gives me hope that the President may be playing a complicated chess game that may turn out well for us. Sure he's done and is doing bad things. Realistically speaking, we have no choice for the next 5 years but to give Obama support while continuing to remind Obama and the Democratic party why we elected him while working to elect more Democrats in Congress. If you see any other alternatives, other than retiring to another country, I'd like to know about it.

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