Sticking by the President

By Guest Contributor

In last week’s “The Elephant in the Room” column, Ben Kinney ’15 offered a litany of what he perceived to be the failures of the Obama presidency. He claimed that the President’s re-election campaign “no longer [inspires] hope” and that the man “lacks the foresight necessary to properly lead this nation.”

We, the College Democrats, have a completely different view of this presidential election and of President Obama’s administration, which we believe must be kept in office for four more years, given the stakes of this country’s problems.

President Obama took office almost four years ago under extraordinary circumstances that few saw coming. During the year prior to President Obama’s inauguration, the United States economy shed 3.6 million jobs. During the month that Obama took office, the economy lost another 818,000 jobs. Remember who was in power then? A Republican president with a trickle-down vision for the American economy shared by the current Republican presidential nominee.

In order to respond to the claim made in last week’s column that we are not better off than we were four years ago, one only needs to look at what Bill Clinton, in his convention speech, called “arithmetic.” Is a plus 96,000 jobs score last month better than a minus 818,000 in January 2008? Just use arithmetic. Is plus two percent GDP growth better than 8.9 percent GDP decline? Just use arithmetic. Are the 4.5 million private sector jobs created in the last 30 months better than the 4.4 million lost in the year leading up to Obama’s inauguration? Just use arithmetic.

Of course, the economy is not growing at the pace it needs to be. Yet, much of that has been caused by external factors beyond President Obama’s control. The European debt crisis comes to mind immediately. The congressional Republicansblocking the President’s jobs bill last September. And, most disgustingly, Republicans playing with fire by holding the debt-ceiling hostage in the summer of 2011.

By all reasonable standards, the proposition that Obama somehow failed America because he inherited a Republican-made crisis and submitted job-creating legislation that was blocked by the same party is absolutely absurd.

In his column, Kinney also claimed that Obama has no vision for the American economy. Not true. Just to name a few major themes, President Obama’s vision for the economy cuts taxes for businesses that create jobs in America, invests in college education so that the workforce endures in the globalized economy and ensures a balanced approach of raising revenue and decreasing spending as a way to cut the deficit.

Furthermore, Kinney hammered the President on his failed promises while ignoring his extraordinary list of achievements, including historic health care reform, a law making it possible for many of us to stay on our parents’ health insurance today. The doubling of Pell Grants and reforming student loans for college kids, which also makes it possible for many of us to be here today. The end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. The killing of Osama bin Laden. Saving a million jobs in the now-booming auto industry. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act giving women equal pay for equal work. Wall Street Reform. Credit card reform. Extension of tax cuts and unemployment benefits. Giving a million “dreamers” a chance to come out of the immigration shadow.

Ultimately, this election is about the choice between two very, very different visions for America. It is not about picking a perfect president who will fulfill every promise, for there is no such thing. It is about whether we continue with the progress of the past four years and keep climbing out of this ditch, or whether we give the keys back to the guys that drove us into the ditch in the first place.

It’s fair to say that Kinney, in his column, offered a glass half-empty vision of this election. It’s a vision of blame and attack, and it offers no clear alternative. The country does not move forward when you’re against something. Thus, we take the more optimistic, glass half-full view of supporting the President and standing for his vision. With Obama and the Democrats in power, this country is not just “hanging in there” – it is moving forward and we intend to keep it that way.


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