If you missed President Obama’s speech in Kansas City yesterday you missed a good one. One thing that was hard to miss was the similarity to Missouri’s only President – Harry Truman. In particular his acceptance speech at the 1948 Democratic Convention.
When President Truman was faced with a Republican congress that spent more time articulating than legislating he took the opportunity to point out their inaction so Americans would know what the situation in Washington really was. He even went so far as to call Congress back into session.
President Obama raises the same issue in this speech. Despite the fact that Republicans like talking about work and doing their best to keep wages down they rarely work and accept a salary of over $170,000. For that money Americans expect for their legislators to at least try to address the issues that are affecting their lives.
It seems both President Truman and Obama share a “Show-Me” attitude.
I had to post this op/ed that appeared in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The content is powerful but made more so by the author- Bob Priddy. You may recognize him as a political reporter covering the statehouse for over 40 years. Missouri’s Oath Of Office Has Lost It’s Meaning means a lot when the source is considered. The original article appeared on the MissouriNet blog under the title Guilt By Association.
Understand this simple fact: This is the only state that has no limits on political contributions. This is the only state that has no limits on lobbyists’ gifts. This is a state that has no limits on legislators holding fund-raising events in Jefferson City during the legislative session.
In recent days, some of our newspaper colleagues who have gone through campaign finance reports have noted the flow of checks to legislators or legislative campaign committees just before or just after significant votes on specific issues.
And four Representatives who had the courage last year to go against party leadership and refused to vote to overturn a veto on a tax cut bill favored by a billionaire GOP supporter now have primary election opponents getting money from an organization heavily financed by the billionaire. The Kirksville Daily Express reported the other day that Dr. John Bailey, who is running against incumbent Republican Nate Walker–one of those who went against party orders to override the veto last year–has gotten $50,000 of the $65,830 he has reported in contributions from that organization. Walker, on the other hand, has had to put $70,000 of his own money into his campaign.
What we have written constitutes nothing more than guilt by association, a concern there is an appearance of impropriety, a series of circumstances that only feeds cynicism and distrust from a general public that blames government for whatever social ill personally affects that voter, a voter who believes the words, “I will not knowingly receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law” are, if not a lie, certainly hollow.
This week’s audio netcast: Former Congressman and foreign policy expert Mike Barnes offers his thoughts on Ukraine, Western Europe and Florida politics. Economic researcher Tom Mallesonmakes the case for economic democracy in the workplace. And Bill Press interviews Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro on the border crisis.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing is sharing a new Ipsos poll that concludes Americans Want Trade Agreements That Do Not Undermine American Jobs.
Conclusions: The poll shows that while currency manipulation is not currently on the minds of many Americans, it is a very salient issue when tied directly to its real-world impacts, such as the potential loss of manufacturing jobs. In a choice between jobs and better access to foreign goods on the marketplace, the survey finds that protecting jobs wins big. Americans ultimately favor fairness, not a marketplace tilted in favor of foreign countries.
This survey demonstrates that efforts to level the playing field for the American companies and workers will be met with strong support from voters. Further, the survey shows that across regions and political affiliations, Americans are sending a clear bipartisan message to policymakers, especially as negotiations continue on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade deals: Prohibiting currency manipulation is of vital importance and should be a key component of any international trade agreement.
Laura Clawson of DailyKos makes this point…
Of course, backers of bad trade deals never admit they’re going to cost jobs. In fact, they always claim the deals will create jobs—but by now, we’ve seen enough of these to know that’s false. And opponents of declaring other countries (China) to be currency manipulators would say it might jeopardize the U.S. relationship with those other countries (China) in problematic ways. Those voices, in fact, dominate our politics. They get the trade agreements passed without transparency. They go on TV and condescendingly explain that this is a global economy and in a global economy you have to race to the bottom, or you might get left behind. (As if being left behind in a race to the bottom is automatically a terrible thing.)
Want an example of a “problematic way” that demanding China not manipulate it’s currency might jeopardize our relationship?
A few years ago I had the opportunity to lobby members of the Missouri and Kansas Congressional delegation on the issue of currency manipulation A Chief -of-Staff for a Kansas Representative stated the candidate would have a hard time supporting a bill to remedy currency manipulation because it might hurt exports from Arkansas. I inquired what the export item was that could not survive a fair currency that would lower the trade deficit with China and boost American manufacturing. The answer was Chicken Beaks and Feet!
It seems a certain chicken processor in The Natural State supposedly sells $200 million worth of Chicken Beaks and Feet to the Chinese every year. According to this Chief-of-Staff for a Kansas Republican congressman this was too important to risk asking the Chinese to live by the agreements they have already made and stop manipulating their currency. Chicken Beaks and Feet were more important than the millions of jobs lost to our staggering $250 billion trade deficit with China. Chicken Beaks and Feet were too important to level the playing field for U.S. small businesses by eliminating an unfair Chinese advantage.
So yes, American policymakers are refusing to take action on the premise that our relationship with China, built on a foundation of chicken parts, might be jeopardized. Of course, the irony of this legislator being a Tea Party member supposedly dedicated to government of , by, and for the people was not lost.
Moral of this story: Don’t Tread on Me unless it is with Chicken Feet!
A couple of week’s ago we featured a Calvin Trillin poem that highlighted the “wrongness” of right-wing pundit Bill Kristol. This week another constant right-wing presence that finds time to serve as a U.S. Senator, John McCain, is caught yet again saying something wrong. Unfortunately for him Jon Stewart was there to challenge him on it. Enjoy this episode of “The Wrong-Off.”