President Obama mixed barbed partisan attack with substantive defense of his policies Monday at a Democratic fundraiser in Texas.
In remarks at a Democratic National Committee event in Austin, Obama extended his established comedic metaphor of Republicans having driven the nation into a ditch with their economic policies.
The president also outlined how his policies will benefit Texas, while criticizing the GOP approach.
Obama regularly jokes that in this upcoming election, Republicans essentially want the keys to the nation back after having wrecked it during the Bush years through policies that swung federal budgets from surpluses to deficits while benefiting largely only the wealthy.
“If you have a car and you want to go forward, what do you do? You put it in ‘D,'” Obama says to laughter. “When you want to go backwards, what do you do? You put it in ‘R.’ I’m just saying. That’s no coincidence. We are not going to give them the keys back.”
Obama tweaked Republicans for obstructing much his agenda, and revealed that he also is willing to let his partisan side show in the months leading up to the critical 2010 midterm elections in which Democrats are defending their congressional majorities.
“We have spent the last 20 months governing. They spent the last 20 months politicking. Now we’ve got three months to go, and so we’ve decided, well, we can politick for three months. They’ve forgotten I know how to politick pretty good,” Obama says to laughter and applause. “And so I’m happy to make this argument — I am happy to have this debate over the next several months about what their vision of the future is, because they don’t have one. They are trying to move us backwards, and we need to move us forward.”
Benefits Of Healthcare, Wall Street Reforms
Obama also offers a strong defense of healthcare reform and Wall Street reform — his signature legislative accomplishments this year.
“No state stands to benefit more from our health care reform than the state of Texas, which has so many people who are insured in this state,” the president says.
“The health insurance reform we passed, it’s not just preventing insurers from denying you coverage,” he adds. “It’s cutting taxes for small business owners that cover their employees, by up to 35 percent of the premiums they’re paying for their employees. It’s saying to young people, you can stay on your parent’s health insurance until you’re 26 so that there’s not that gap in coverage just as they’re starting their careers. It’s providing assistance to seniors, so that they can help to deal with that doughnut hole that was created by the prescription drug plan.
“And slowly, this plan is going to eliminate it. And then there was just news last week that showed that because of our health reform plan, the life of Medicare is going to be extended for an additional 12 years. It has made Social Security — it has made Medicare stronger for the next generation, as well as this generation.”
Wall Street reform crystallizes what’s at stake in this election, the president says, because it demonstrates that Republicans care primarily about politics and protecting wealthy special interests.
Obama says his financial reforms, which represent the largest overhaul of the banking sector since the Great Depression, simply are common sense following the 2008 financial meltdown and subsequent economic downturn.
“Now, you would think in the aftermath of that, that anybody sensible would say, you know what, we need to have some stronger rules of the road in place, not to stifle innovation, not to strangle the free market, but rather to make sure that everybody is playing by some basic rules; that financial institutions are making their money by providing good products and good services to their customers, instead of trying to game the system,” the president says.
“And yet, if you ask the Republican leaders in Washington, they all want to repeal the reforms that we just passed. Makes no sense — unless you’re thinking about the next election, or you’re thinking about the special interests that you’ve been working with hand in glove for the last 20 months or the last decade. It doesn’t make sense — unless you’re only thinking about the next election.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.