Monday, September 7, 2009

Obama Reminds Me Why I Voted For Him

Speaking at the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic:

Here are some of the highlights from the transcript.

Praising some of the labor movement's past accomplishments:
"So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted--the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare--they all bear the union label. It was the American worker--union men and women--who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So even if you're not a union member, every American owes something to America's labor movement."
Linking the economic crisis to the cultural values that enabled it:

"But in recent years, the American Dream seemed to slip away, because from Washington to Wall Street, too often a different culture prevailed. Wealth was valued over work, selfishness over sacrifice, greed over responsibility, the right to organize undermined rather than strengthened. That's what we saw. And while it may have worked out well for a few at the top, it sure didn't work out well for our country."

Addressing health reform directly, turning up the ass-kicking a bit:

"We've never been this close. We've never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done. And because we're so close to real reform, the special interests are doing what they always do--trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo."

"But I've got a question for them: What's your answer? What's your solution? The truth is, they don't have one. It's do nothing. And we know what that future looks like. Insurance companies raking in the profits while discriminating against people because of pre-existing conditions and denying or dropping coverage when you get sick. It means you're never negotiating about higher wages, because you're spending all your time just protecting the benefits you already have."

Recognizing that it all comes back to organized labor:

"And few have fought harder or longer for health care and America's workers than you--our brothers and sisters of organized labor. And just as we know that we must adapt to all the changes and challenges of a global economy, we also know this: in good economic times and bad, labor is not part of the problem. Labor is part of the solution. It's why I support the Employee Free Choice Act--to level the playing field so it's easier for employees who want a union to form a union. Because when labor is strong, America is strong. When we all stand together, we all rise together."

It's about time for some of this fiery Obama. The opponents of health reform (i.e. insurance companies, anti-social ideologues, and congressional Republicans) need to be called out for their vacuous arguments aimed at maintaining the status quo. Obama is beginning to do this and to boil down the health reform issue to its essential conflict: corporations who profit obscenely from an inhuman system vs. ordinary people uniting to improve their lives. I hope there is more of this in his big speech on Wednesday night.

My wife and I just returned from a holiday weekend getaway (which I'll be posting about later). It was nice to find this rousing speech online when we got back. The president is getting tough on the health reform fight while allying with the folks who have been fighting the corporate status quo since there first was one. Happy Labor Day indeed.

1 comment:

Becky said...

I have high hopes for his speech tonight.