Still Fear vs. Hope? Obama Attacks John Boehner, GOP’s Economic Vision

By Nitya

Sep 8, 2010 4:52pm

From
Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

In
a starkly political speech President Obama assailed House Minority Leader John
Boehner, R-OH, by name eight times today, attacking the Republicans economic
philosophy as flawed and weak, attempting to define the choice that
people have in November’s election.

In
rhetoric very similar to the comparisons he’d draw between the two parties in
the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama framed the election for voters.

“It’s
still fear versus hope; the past versus the future,” Obama said from Cleveland,
Ohio today, “It’s still a choice between sliding backward and moving
forward.  That’s what this election is about.  That’s the choice
you’ll face in November.”

The
president defined the Republican economic philosophy as, “Cut taxes, especially
for millionaires and billionaires.  Cut regulations for special
interests.  Cut trade deals even if they didn’t benefit our workers. 
Cut back on investments in our people and our future.”

The
president came to Cleveland today to draw a stark comparison between his
economic agenda and that of the Republicans – as House Minority Leader John
Boehner just over two weeks ago outlined the Republican economic agenda in a
speech in the same city.


“There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner,” Obama said of his speech, “There were no new ideas.  There was just the same philosophy we already tried for the
last decade – the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place.”

The
economic policies in Mr. Obama’s speech today  -  infrastructure
investments, expanding, simplifying and making permanent the R&D tax
credit, and allowing companies to fully deduct qualified capital investments
through the end of 2011 – are new initiatives that the president will be talking
about from now until election day, the White House says. But his speech today
was not to elaborate on the details of the yet-to-be-passed proposals, but yet
to compare the economic values of the two parties.

“Mr.
Boehner and the Republicans in Congress said no to these projects,” Obama said
noting that some of the ideas have traditionally had bipartition support in the
past, “that too is what this election is about.”

One of the many policy disagreements centers on the Bush tax cuts
set to expire at the end of the year. President Obama wants to extend them for
those who earn under $200,000 a year, while Republicans want to also extend
them for the top two tax brackets.  Making a middle-class appeal today,
Mr. Obama said directly to the people in the audience “you deserve some help,”
saying that he believes they ought to make tax cuts for the middle class
permanent.

“So
let me be clear to Mr. Boehner and everyone else:  we should not hold
middle class tax cuts hostage any longer.  We are ready, this week, to
give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less,” Obama said, “Now for
any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were
under President Clinton.  This isn’t to punish folks who are better off.
God Bless them. It’s because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement pushed
back against Mr. Obama’s speech.

“If the President wanted to have an immediate impact on hiring, he
could begin by changing his mind and announcing today his opposition to the
job-killing tax hikes on small businesses,” McConnell said, “ America’s job
creators have already been hit with higher health care costs and related taxes,
new bureaucracy and a financial regulation bill. Americans want jobs, not more
government, more debt and more taxes. Let’s start today with a declarative
statement against tax hikes on the small businesses that are critical to expand
and create jobs.”

The
president said that it’s the “easiest” thing for the Republican part to do in a
political campaign – to “ride this fear and anger all the way to Election
Day,”  without offering up a serious plan to govern, he said. Drawing up
historical comparisons,  the president praised many Republicans, many of
whom are dead – Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt,
Eisenhower, Reagan –calling them serious leaders for serious times –
suggesting the Republican party of today is not holding up those traditions.

“They
were great politicians, but they didn’t spend all their time playing games or
scoring points,” Obama said of the Republicans of yesteryear, “They didn’t
always prey on people’s fears and anxieties. They made mistakes, but they
did what they thought was in the best interest of their country and its
people.  That’s what the American people expect of us today – Democrats,
Independents, and Republicans.  That’s the debate they deserve. 
That’s the leadership we owe them.”

The
president also talked about his and First Lady Michelle Obama’s humble roots –
striking a personal tone to economic struggles they too have had in the past,
at a time when many Americans are struggling themselves.

“My
grandfather marched off to Europe in World War II and my grandmother worked in
factories on the home front.  I had a single mom who put herself through
school, and would wake before dawn to make sure I got a decent education….Yes,
our families believed in the American values of self-reliance and individual
responsibility, and they instilled those values in their children.  But
they also believed in a country that rewards responsibility.”

Today’s
economic speech in Cleveland follows President Obama’s economic address in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Monday and a daytime press conference on Friday at the
White House.

-Jake
Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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