Archives for: June 2012, 14
Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, Ohio
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Good afternoon, everybody. (Applause.) It is great to be back in Cleveland. (Applause.) It is great to be back here at Cuyahoga Community College. (Applause.)
I want to, first of all, thank Angela for her introduction and sharing her story. I know her daughter is very proud of her -- I know her daughter is here today. So give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to thank your president, Dr. Jerry-Sue Thornton. (Applause.) And I want to thank some members of Congress who made the trip today -- Representative Marcia Fudge, Representative Betty Sutton, and Representative Marcy Kaptur. (Applause.)
Now, those of you who have a seat, feel free to sit down. (Laughter and applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
So, Ohio, over the next five months, this election will take many twists and many turns. Polls will go up and polls will go down. There will be no shortage of gaffes and controversies that keep both campaigns busy and give the press something to write about. You may have heard I recently made my own unique contribution to that process. (Laughter.) It wasn’t the first time; it won’t be the last. (Laughter.)
And in the coming weeks, Governor Romney and I will spend time debating our records and our experience -- as we should. But though we will have many differences over the course of this campaign, there's one place where I stand in complete agreement with my opponent: This election is about our economic future. (Applause.)
He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.
Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.
Okay, so it wasn't the most artful way for Mitt Romney to articulate the Republican philosophy. Did Wisconsin voters realize they were marching against the icons you hope to hear about when you ask what the cute little one wants to grow up to be?
It was not a gaffe in the sense of being a distortion of a viewpoint. Mitt Romney had already rhapsodized in a dreamy sort of way about a future of bigger and bigger classrooms jam-packed with students. In his book "No Apology" he was explicit. "In The United States, then, the effort to reduce classroom size may actually hurt education more than it helps." In Philadelphia last month he defended the notion of more students per teacher. As governor of Massachusetts he put his educational ideas to the test. He personally studied classrooms in hundreds of schools and decided that class size didn't matter. This does contradict the most cited study, the Tennessee Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio. Conducted in the 1980's, the Tennessee study found that reduced class size advanced students by three months on average over a four year period.
Republican lawmakers have praised the heroism of 9/11 rescuers, the firefighters who sacrificed their lives saving others. Those who died were not the only heroes, of course. Those who stayed had endangered their health, as they inhaled toxins while pulling victims to safety. Years later, they needed treatment for some of the illnesses that came as a result of that exposure. Republicans stood their ground, fighting to the last to keep health benefits from those who had stayed for days and weeks working in the rubble, looking for survivors. Finally, enough compromises were made to attract just enough stray Republicans to pass the Zadroga Bill to get needed help to those who helped others. It was named for James Zadroga, a 9/11 rescuer who died from respiratory illness at age 34. The help was too late for him.
A conservative was once defined as a liberal who has been mugged. Now a liberal is a conservative who has needed a police officer and couldn't find one. The change in position can be traced back to Bill Clinton's measures to put more than 100,000 additional police into American communities. Republicans opposed the measure.
The hostility of hard core conservatives toward teachers, firefighters, and police officers is not personal. There is a downplaying of the importance of those government employees. Does it really matter if police or fire response time is 10 minutes instead of 3? I suppose it depends on whether you are the one lying on the sidewalk in the aftermath of violence, or whether it is your home or your neighbor's that is smoldering. Sometimes it comes from a grouping of those community pillars into the same amorphous category as the "pointy headed bureaucrats" of the George Wallace era. Government employees are easier to attack than the specific personnel we count on.
It does indeed go beyond the teachers, firefighters, and police that Governor Romney named as his specific targets. Tens of thousands of bridges are in disrepair. Those are bridges you and I drive over and under every day. Think about what will happen when the deterioration reaches the point of tragedy. There remain thousands of workers who are able but unemployed. The match between the task and those who can perform the task seems obvious.
Sometime the opposition is purely financial. The health help for 9/11 rescue related illnesses were called a "massive new entitlement" by opponents as they filibustered and delayed.
And there is a different perspective on the economic effect of funding those many of us regard as essential to a healthy society. The economic multiplier effect is inescapable. This is the first economic recovery in memory in which the public sector actually reduced. Instead of boosting the economy with more jobs, proposals to keep up are stalled in Congress. Nothing is getting through.
Cops, firemen, and teachers don’t shop in public-sector Gov-Marts, they don’t protect and educate the citizens of Public-O-Stan, and they don’t get paid in ObamaBucks. Their 700,000-strong absence from the workforce has terrible ripples in the private economy, and on private life.
Holding back on teachers, firefighters, and police is not a good idea.
It is reprehensible on a moral basis.
It is irresponsible on a functional basis.
It is block headed on an economic basis.
How many ways has it got to be wrong?