Dear President Obama:
I truly hope this is one of the letters you say you read personally each night because it represents the views of countless others like me who called, canvassed, and wrote checks to ensure your election, and who continue to support you and your mission in most respects, but who feel increasingly frustrated by the lack of Democratic leadership.
I am fully aware of your many important accomplishments during the first two years of your administration; I applaud them and try to make them known to others. My frustration comes from unfilled promises and the seemingly endless inability of Democratic leadership to explain their initiatives, make visible their accomplishments, take pride in them, and defend them as they push forward. I am equally frustrated by the inability of those with a public voice and a bully pulpit to fight back when vicious distortions and lies are put forward by Republicans.
Let me give you some specific examples of actions vs. promises which I believe have diluted your support:
Reform Washington -" You campaigned promising to change how Washington works. Instead, you immediately entered into backroom deals with the pharmaceutical industry (resulting in U.S. citizens being denied the right to import cheaper drugs from overseas). Why did you not introduce a bill prohibiting all members of Congress from receiving gifts from lobbyists or outside interests? (Ironically, it seems the new Republican House will take credit for abolishing "earmarks", yet they have been the worst abusers of this system.)
Health Care Reform -" Why did you retreat from strong leadership in not proposing a single payer system or public option (e.g., Medicare for All)? Instead of defending a specific plan yourself, you allowed Congress to turn the entire process into a "sausage-making" spectacle. And why did you not agree to Republican proposals on tort reform or allowing insurance companies to work across state lines? In the end, why was there no simple summary (2 pages) of the main features and benefits of the new system made available to every household in the country?
Communications -" The Democrats had a very productive first two years. Why were no talking points or a fact sheet widely distributed to all administration spokespersons and members of Congress? Why wasn't the public informed much earlier that TARP not only saved the country from financial collapse, but that it is expected that all but $30 billion will be repaid to the Treasury? You realize, I'm sure, that most Americans believe you have increased taxes? Your inclusion of tax deductions in the stimulus package meant that it went largely unnoticed. (My husband did voluntary work to help poorer people complete their income tax returns. Neither they nor he had ever heard of the "making pay work" tax rebate.)
Income tax -" Why permit the Bush tax cuts to be extended for two years for the wealthiest of Americans as some Republicans have suggested? Clearly, they hope to win enough seats in the Senate in 2012 so that these cuts can become permanent. Why not compromise by shifting the ceiling from $250,000 to $1 million to address the "small business" concern? Republicans will be hard put to oppose it.