BY DAN ROBINSON – In a series of political fundraising events in U.S. western states in recent days, President Barack Obama has made some of his sharpest comments yet about Republican positions on the economy, as he adopts more of a fiery persona campaigning for re-election next year. Mr. Obama also continues to promote his economic growth proposals and increase pressure on Congress to pass a key jobs bill.
In a recent address to the organization representing African-American members of Congress, and continuing through seven fundraising events in the western states of Washington and California, a new Barack Obama was on display. “I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on,” he said.
His remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus were aimed at firing up an important part of his political base, one that has suffered sharp effects of the recent recession.
Mr. Obama noted that unemployment for blacks stands at nearly 17 percent – the highest in nearly three decades, with almost 40 percent of African-American children living in poverty. The overall U.S. poverty rate now exceeds 15 percent, the highest in 18 years.
The president followed that speech with a three-day trip through the American West, partly for campaigning and partly for policy promotion – to visit the states of Washington, California and Colorado, which he won in the November 2008 presidential election.
At one event, covered only by the print media, he made some of his sharpest remarks yet about Republican policies, and about Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination.
Mr. Obama acknowledged disillusionment with government as a new Gallup poll showed a record 81 percent of Americans, including Democrats and Republicans, are dissatisfied.
But he said if Americans choose the alternative to re-electing him as president, they would bring “an approach to government that will fundamentally cripple America in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.”
Mr. Obama aimed some criticism directly at Rick Perry, the Texas governor whose performance in recent Republican debates, according to political analysts, has hurt his position in the Republican field.
The president also used his trip out West to urge Americans to press Congress to approve his $447 billion jobs bill, known as the American Jobs Act, and to promote long-term deficit and debt reduction proposals that call for wealthier Americans to pay more in taxes.
Increasingly, he makes this response to counter assertions by Republicans that he has engaged in “class warfare” by proposing higher taxes for the rich to help raise revenues. “If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that,” he said.
In his latest use of social media, the president used a town hall meeting in Mountain View, California to answer questions from some among 250 people in a studio audience, and from online users of the LinkedIn professional network.
This was part of Mr. Obama’s response to an African-American man who lost his job after 22 years in the information technology field. “Economies all around the world are not growing as fast as they need to and since the world is really interconnected, that effects us as well. The encouraging thing for you is that when the economy gets back on track in the ways that it should, you are going to be prepared to be successful,” he said.
Mr. Obama’s trip out West ends with a visit to a school in Denver, Colorado where he will again promote his jobs legislation that proposes to modernize 35,000 schools across the country.
He returns to a Washington facing the latest example of the political brinksmanship he has criticized so vehemently, as a divided Congress worked to overcome an impasse over a short-term spending bill needed to keep the federal government operating into mid-November. The current fiscal year ends September 30, and without passage of a continuing resolution, there will be a partial shutdown of the government.