Another Betrayal: Obama Begs U.S. Corporations to “Invest In America”

To mostly positive media reviews, President Obama yesterday addressed the Chamber of Commerce in Washington. Though a number of stories describe the reception afforded the president as rather chilly, the coverage tends to present him as focused on the economic recovery, and reaching out to his political opponents in order to spark job creation.

ABC World News said the president

delivered an urgent message to the companies to get in the game, start spending money and hiring workers — throwing down a gauntlet but also trying to build a bridge.

The CBS Evening News said:

Obama continued his campaign to improve relations with business, … [urging] corporate America to invest the nearly $2 trillion it has saved up and start hiring again.

The Los Angeles Times recounts:

There was little hearty applause, and after the president shook a few hands and walked back to the White House, Chamber members were guarded in their reviews of his message.

The New York Times reports:

The chamber, too, is eager to tone down the rhetoric, according to senior officials there. At the height of the high-profile fight with the White House, several big-name companies left its board, citing concern about the chamber’s opposition to the administration’s efforts.

The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank writes:

Obama at times paused after what should have been applause lines, but the room was so quiet that the air could be heard coming out of the vents, as when he vowed to take “domestic discretionary spending down to the lowest share of our economy since Eisenhower was president.” No applause.

Bloomberg News reports that in his remarks:

Obama said he is doing his part to improve the business climate after a free- trade agreement with South Korea, a deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts, and a State of the Union address that proposed more government support for infrastructure and ‘innovation.’

Politico says a decoding of Obama’s speech

also offers the first whiff of the desperation inside the White House about the slowness of the economic recovery, the high unemployment figures, and the need to get the business community fully engaged in turning things around.

The AP reports, “some liberals bristled at Obama’s outreach.” Christy Setzer, spokeswoman for U.S. Chamber Watch, a pro-labor group, said, “While … Obama calls on businesses to invest in America, the only thing the U.S. Chamber’s investing in is their own bottom line — lining the pockets of corporate CEOs while shipping the jobs of hard-working Americans overseas.”

News Analysis: Obama wins media over with centrist moves. Politico reports on Obama’s reaction to the November election, noting that the “three-month metamorphosis says something about Obama’s survival skills,” but it “says even more about the mainstream media: Obama is playing the press like a fiddle.” Obama is “doing it by exploiting some of the most long-standing traits among reporters who cover politics and government — their favoritism for politicians perceived as ideologically centrist and willing to profess devotion to Washington’s oft-honored, rarely practiced civic religion of bipartisanship.”

NSP Analysis: Instead of a New Deal program to help middle-income people, the poor, those losing their homes, and the 18 percent of Americans unemployed or severely underemployed, or at least trying to help Americans explain why the corporate elite has experienced a major economic recovery but pocketed the money rather than create jobs for the unemployed or agree to plans for government to help, Obama chose to beg America’s corporate elite to do what Democrats used to know was the task of government inside a capitalist society: provide help to alleviate the suffering of those most wounded by the “free marketplace.” So what we get is a government pleading with the rich to be more generous, and the elites of wealth respond with indifference and private satisfaction that the forces that once might have challenged them are instead now simply whimpering in despair. This is the second betrayal from the Obama administration today — I discussed his other betrayal in relation to Egypt’s pro-democracy movement in a separate post.

And the rest of us? Too traumatized by the thought of a Republican victory in 2012 to seriously challenge the Obama administration on any front? Not so! The NSP has a plan to limit corporate power and build a truly caring society. Help us seek city council endorsements and endorsements from your other elected officials (particularly congressional reps who will soon be approaching you for donations for their next campaigns) for our Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ESRA) — the only way the power situation in the United States could change back in favor of real democracy. Please read it.

Never say, “There was nothing I could have done.” There is something you can do: join the Network of Spiritual Progressives as a dues-paying member, or at least make a substantial donation, help us build a campaign for the ESRA (you don’t need anything more than a willingness to talk to your neighbors to get them to sign our petition and then to go to elected officials to insist that they embrace the ESRA — and if you are house-bound then you can write letters to our list of key media people. You could also come to Tikkun‘s 25th anniversary celebration March 11-14 in Berkeley (details here) to show public support for those who refuse to despair and who keep on putting out the message that social justice, peace, generosity and love are still the best path to save our society and save the planet.

Embrace the prophetic politics of Tikkun and the NSP, and please do it now! With membership in NSP comes a free subscription to Tikkun‘s quarterly print version, and access to exclusive subscriber-only pieces on our new online magazine site. Please stand with us together, or each of us will fall into cynicism and passivity by ourselves!

tags: US Politics   
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