President Obama speech, Belfast June 2013 by usembassylondon
Originally Published in The Michigan Chronicle, June 26, 2013
By Robert Weiner and Shona Paige
President Obama has dropped some ten points in recent polls--not surprising given the massive media swirl about supposed scandals. Even though a strong case can be made that the scandals have little merit and are driven by partisan opponents, the President needs to be clearer about his positive agenda for the American people. It would be wise if he held a White House news conference in the near future laying out his second term agenda. The criticism saying he has none would dissipate. Here's what he could include:
We recently asked in The Chronicle, "What About Jobs?" With the unemployment rate in the United States at 7.6% -- more than 50% over our post-World War Two average--and at 13.5% among African Americans, and the numbers even higher in Michigan, the major topic Americans and Michigan citizens are still concerned about is jobs. Jobs have become a forgotten issue. The President has been pushing creation of infrastructure jobs but the Congress has been filibustering and opposing the bills.
Implementation of the new national health bill and getting people to use and know the bill are also properly large on Obama's second term agenda. The Affordable Health Care Act offers preventive care and allows children to remain on parents' plans until age 26. It stops pre-existing conditions from blocking coverage and gives lifetime care. Most significantly, it covers 30 million previously uninsured Americans. Getting those who do not have insurance to use the law is imperative.
A vital concern on the agenda is the Sequester and its affects. The sequester is causing cuts in food stamps, college scholarships, K-12 education, cancer research and veterans' benefits among other critical programs, as well as defense. The sequester should be repealed as the legislation of Cong. John Conyers, Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, would do.
High on the agenda is enforcing the Voting Rights Act. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told us recently, the power of the Voting Rights Act is authorized in the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Yet the Supreme Court's conservatives have just blocked part of the Act. We should be doing more to fight voter suppression, not less. Congress must pass corrective legislation, immediately.
There is no peace in the Middle East. There is no good answer in Syria, but it must not become a never-ending American war. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars must proceed on course to end, which includes the 200,000 contractors still in the fight. Contractors make up to five times as much money as soldiers, but have almost no oversight, as NSA leaker Edward Snowden and the CIA contractors who tortured in Abu Ghraib have proved.
We must fight oil price gouging. Have you noticed that gas prices go up and down based on the visibility of the opposition? Don't fall for the claim that it is supply and demand.