Republicans may have driven the car into the ditch. But voters know the difference between a sales job and reality.
That’s why they didn’t trust President Obama and the Democrats’ pitch that they had gotten the car out of the ditch and gotten it running again.
It didn’t ring true because far too many Americans are still stuck in the ditch.
And all of the presidents’ talk about how much worse off we’d be without his team’s hard work fell on deaf ears.
From the time he took office through the election, the president and his team failed to adequately acknowledge how deep the ditch was. By all accounts, the president is a brilliant man, and he’s hardly the first president to suffer a midterm “shellacking.” And his opponents haven’t exactly been overflowing with creative ideas for how to get the economy going again for those of us who aren’t bankers.
I also realize it’s not just up to the president – we all have a responsibility. So here’s my humble contribution to help the president make a mid-course correction: some suggestions for what the president might say.
My fellow Americans:
You sent me a strong message on November 2. I have to admit it stung. It’s taken a while to sink in, but I get it now.
I haven’t taken the economic pain that many of you are feeling seriously enough. The range of solutions I’ve chosen have been far too narrow and not nearly ambitious or imaginative enough. I’ve paid too much attention to not riling the markets and not enough attention to getting you back to work and keeping you in your houses. For that I owe you an apology. I have also belittled your concerns that our government has fostered a system that favors the wealthy and connected over other Americans. I’m sorry for that too.
I know that words without action ring hollow. So I’m replacing my entire economic team with men and women who are more attuned to the economic crisis that many of you find yourselves in. We’re fortunate that we have such a distinguished group to choose from – Paul Volcker, Robert Reich, Bill Black and Brooksley Born among them.
I have previously attributed the lack of popularity of some of my administration’s policies to my inability to sell them properly. But in retrospect, I see that the problem wasn’t the message. It was my previous unwillingness to fight, and fight hard, for stronger policies, stronger solutions to the country’s economic problems. I should have done so earlier.
But I will do so now.
Make no mistake. These solutions will cost money. Putting people back to work will cost money. But that money is an investment in a future that we can all live with, not just the well-to-do, and that will pay dividends later. I know that my opponents have raised concerns about the federal deficit, and I share some of those concerns. But my top priority for the next two years will be putting Americans back to work and making sure that we have a recovery that works for everybody. If my opponents want to have a debate on the deficit, I welcome that. If they want to have a debate on whether the government can truly help people or whether the government itself is the problem, then I welcome that too. Let’s have it on television.
But mostly I welcome my opponents’ ideas about how to put Americans back to work. Because the American people don’t just want an endless debate. You want action.
We’ll have a debate and then we’ll get to it. I know that you’re impatient. You also don’t want excuses. You won’t get any from me. What you will get is a plan to reduce unemployment, stabilize housing and reduce the widespread economic misery. I promise you that will be my number one priority.
Thank you for the great trust you have placed in me.
Can I guarantee success if my opponents decide to stand in the way rather than cooperate? Probably not. But I promise you that for the next two years all of my energy, intellect and passion will be harnessed to this effort, whatever the obstacles or political costs.