Obama's Legitimate Call for Economic Patriotism
Some conservative critics of President Obama have characterized as un-American his recent appeal to business leaders to play their role in reviving our economy. This is just plain hogwash.
If President Obama is going to get us back in harmony again, where both businesses and employees are experiencing an upswing in quality of life (something that has not happened for years now), he must convince business leaders that the "spread the wealth" mantra that conservative pundits accuse him of proposing is actually a "grow the wealth" philosophy, one in which prosperity is shared by more Americans.
This is not an unfair or anti-business position for the president to take, especially considering the consumer-based nature of our economy. The tax base that held up these businesses -- often through sacrifices that included actual cuts to services and programs designed to advance the nation (such as the Small Business Administration and other initiatives promoting economic and civic vitality) -- should rightfully expect a return on its 2008 investment. Businesses that pretend now that this is some form of "taking care of the poor" seem to have wiped away any remembrance of the corporate welfare from which they benefited just a short time ago.
It is possible that, over the next several years, U.S.-based businesses will continue to benefit from government bailouts, Bush-era tax rates, a reduction in the corporate tax rate and a possible modification of the tax code -- by convincing the American people that our businesses are worth the gamble. Asking these businesses to do the same -- to take the risk that American families, employees and students who will be the next work force are worth it -- is not socialism. Instead, it is a demand that the American people should be able to make in order to advance as a nation. What better person to present that demand than the one politician not tied to any one congressional district, state or segmented constituency?
At some point, Americans on both sides of this debate -- the business leaders and fortunate business owners who have found success, as well as those lower- and middle-class workers striving to grasp their own version of the American Dream -- are going to have to own up to their mutual obligation to reinvest and sacrifice in order to rebuild America from the core outward and not from the top down. President Obama's message to business leaders went to the heart of this matter.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the host of the morning radio show Launching Chicago With Lenny McAllister at 5 a.m. on WVON, The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM. He is the author of an upcoming edition of the book The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010): Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative). Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.