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.
Conservatives refuse to admit that it has often been politically expedient (and beneficial) to knock President Obama at every turn, regardless of whether the criticism has merit for something other than political sport. This Republican tactic in the media and in Washington -- even for ardent conservatives -- has become a BORE (Bash Obama, Repeat Endlessly), especially when some of the positions these critics take don't have much ideological consistency.
Such is the case with this week's chatter concerning the president's message to American business leaders about their ethical obligations to the American work force, now that Wall Street has recovered but Main Street remains sick. Pundits such as Fox News Radio's John Gibson railed against President Obama after the speech, calling the president's urging of American businesses "to give back" as nothing more than veiled socialistic talk designed to rob recovering businesses of their profits. Mentions of the dreaded "s-word" ratchet up emotion on talk radio and within the conservative blogosphere, just in time for the annual Republican migration to the Conservative Political Action Conference, but they do little to speak to the ties that bind us together as a nation, both in times of business need and in times of recovery.
President Obama's not-so-subtle message that American businesses have an ethical and -- dare I say -- patriotic obligation to help restore the national economy for all Americans is not the far-out, extreme leftist political stance that conservative talk radio has been promoting since the president's meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 7. All of the signals from Obama show a genuine concern for rebuilding the business and hiring cultures that have been suffering lately. The president's willingness to keep the Bush-era tax rates should have a stabilizing effect on the small-business climate, one full of folks who often risk being double-taxed and caught in other unfortunate financial capers.
His openness to modifying the health care reform law of 2010 to improve its intended efficiency shows a desire to make sure that businesses do not suffer under the new lawl. Now the president is taking the next step: speaking directly about finding a prudent way to lower the tax burden for businesses here in the United States.
The president is doing his patriotic duty as our leader to create the environment that will bring back America's economic vitality. It's not too much at all for Obama to call on American businesses -- many of which benefited in some fashion from the tax-funded series of bailouts starting in 2008 -- to do their patriotic duty as well.
Those who characterize Obama's call for businesses to invest in America at this time as some sort of socialistic wealth redistribution -- now that profits are increasing -- are spreading something themselves: hogwash. The ode to patriotism that a Republican president hummed a few years ago to help American businesses avoid collapse is the same tune that President Obama is singing now. Republicans from President George W. Bush to presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona to the 91 GOP members of Congress who pushed through the October 2008 legislation felt that it was the patriotic and ethical response to ensure that American businesses deemed "too big to fail" were not allowed to do so.
Now is the time to make sure that a nation too big to fail -- the United States of America -- does not risk doing so while the rates of unemployment (9 percent) and underemployment (some financial experts claim the actual rate may be as high as 22 percent) remain stifling. Communities cannot rebuild after the recession if businesses are not embracing the communities in which they are situated.