I thought President Obama’s budget speech yesterday was superb, one of his best speeches in my opinion, and judging from the comments throughout yesterday and in today’s papers it was exactly the kind of speech his supporters had been wishing for but, maybe, not really believing that they would hear.
The speech was not only most eloquent but also most convincing. The President put down his markers about not only where he stood in the budget debate but, more importantly, how he saw America and what it should stand for, the good society — helping and protecting the elderly, the sick, the poor, and that we all share in this responsibility. For the wealthy, that would mean higher taxes.
“At last,” writes E.J Dionne in today’s Washington Post, “after months of mixed signals about what he was willing to fight for, Obama finally laid out his purposes and his principles.”
Obama’s vision of government and society is what we call “liberalism”, wrote Steve Benen on Washington Monthly’s website yesterday, and continued:
“The ‘sellout’ of the left this wasn’t. What we saw today was an unapologetic defense of a progressive vision of government, cased in terms that were equal parts moral and pragmatic. America doesn’t hear it often enough, and Obama delivered it with passion and conviction today.”
Paul Krugman, the influential economist and New York Times columnist, who has recently been very critical of the president, was pleased. It was much better than what I expected, I can live with this, he wrote on his blog. And New Yorker’s political commentator, Hendrik Hertzberg, wrote that when Obama was finished, the Republican alternative was a “smoking ruin” … “Even Paul Krugman was satisfied. Me too,” he concluded
The Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who had recently launched his, and soon to be, the Republican proposal, sat in the audience and seemed almost shocked afterwards, judging by his reaction:
“It was no budget proposal, it was a political speech,” he said, reflecting his party’s total opposition to Obama’s speech.
Tough negotiations now wait. Their outcome is impossible to predict, although both sides talk about the seriousness of the economic situation and their desire to make a deal. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy wrote a while back that meaningful reform can be achieved in America only at the “moment of genuine danger.”
Are we there today? Maybe. Time will tell.