Bob Herbert has a question for President Barack Obama.
"Does he get it?"
No he does not.
More from Herbert:
"Even Mr. Obama, in an interview with The Times, gave short shrift to the idea of an additional economic stimulus package, telling John Harwood a few weeks ago that the economy had likely turned a corner. “As you know,” the president said, “jobs tend to be a lagging indicator; they come last.”
The view of most American families is somewhat less blasé. Faced with the relentless monthly costs of housing, transportation, food, clothing, education and so forth, they have precious little time to wait for this lagging indicator to come creeping across the finish line."
Obama really doesn't get it. He doesn't get it on health care. He doesn't get it on jobs. And he doesn't seem to get it on economic regulation. Mr. Obama seems to be listening to the wrong people. He's listening to the Wall Street executives that wiped out our pension plans. He's deferring to the senators who are beholden to the health insurance agencies that are raising premiums on the average workers. His economic stimulus package was too small and now he's dismissing claims that we need another one.
The president really has to get out of the White House and tour the country. He's got to listen to the people who voted for him expecting change. We really need a major government works project to put everyone back to work. Every state has its share of bridges in dire need of repair and every state has roads in need of repaving.
On health care our president has largely been missing in action. He devoted one address to Congress and one press conference to the issue but on both occasions the president spoke in platitudes and broke no new ground.The president said it could not add to our nation's growing debt and could be passed without a public government plan to compete with the health insurance agencies but failed to explain how (a) the cost in health care would be offset or (b) what must be included within the health package. At each step of the way, the president or someone who was speaking on his behalf said a health insurance plan that includes no public option could be signed into law by our president but a concession such as this was, at at all, to be treated as the end result of and not as a sign of good faith for, bipartisan negotiations.
The president's failure on the Wall Street is the most unnerving of all. The president owes his election in large part to the collapse of the stock market, the loss of pension plans, and the McCain campaign's failure to coherently respond to this economic crisis. Laissez-faire economics was repudiated. Wall Street bankers needed to be regulated after all.
This crisis provided the Obama administration with an opportunity to restructure the regulatory regime in Washington but the president had merely decided to tweak it. Mr. Obama could have consolidated some regulatory agencies so Wall Street bankers could never shop around for them again or he could have pushed for a bill that prohibited the emergency of businesses "too big to fail." The president, to date, has not and he has not expended any capital on this important issue.
The people who voted for Obama could turn on him at a moment's notice. The president must use the bully pulpit to fight for what he believes in for if he doesn't he and the Democrats that stand behind him, could be in for a ugly midterm election.