Commentary: The Real View of Our Economy

Rep. Karen Bass responds to Michael Steele's comments on Obama, businesses and the economy.

Posted: 07/24/2012 06:51 PM EDT
Rep. Karen Bass

(Photo: karenbass.house.gov)

Last week, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele wrote an op-ed that was nothing more than a sad extension of the Romney campaign’s desperate and distorted attacks against President Obama. And the Romney campaign is jumping over a baseless attack that the Washington Post fact-checker gave “Three Pinocchios.” In exposing the latest falsehood, the Post said, “The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.”

Recently, the president lauded our nation for being one that provided the conditions for hard-working Americans to succeed. That those who start a business succeed because of their individual initiative—their drive, hard work and creativity—and that our country is stronger because of the type of core values it was originally founded upon—our democratic political system, capitalism and a government that encourages and rewards free enterprise. And going forward, we must work to create an economy that’s built to last together, to continue to pull ourselves out of this recession together and to move forward together.

This has always been Obama’s message—that we are stronger together than we are on our own. President Obama continues to believe in and push for an America where hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and everyone pays their fair share. And when we all look out for each other, we all have a better chance of rebuilding the country from the middle out so that we can continue moving forward by investing in infrastructure, research and development, and education while paying down our debt in a responsible way.

Obama wants to restore the American Dream for everyone, not just those at the top. As President Clinton said, "We need a spirit of community, a sense that we are all in this together. If we have no sense of community, the American Dream will wither." So when Obama says that you didn’t do it alone—you better believe you didn’t do it alone. You grew up in a nation that provided the education needed to succeed. You grew up in a nation that built the roads, bridges and broadband network that helps businesses transport their goods and services. And you grew up in a nation that thrives on an entrepreneurial spirit.

As we move forward, rebuilding an America that was greater than before, we must remember that there are still critical actions that we must continue to take as a community to support businesses and encourage new ones. That means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation as a whole benefits from them.

The fact is, Mitt Romney and his allies in Congress believe that if you let Wall Street write its own rules again, take away rules that protect consumers and workers, and cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, the market will somehow grow from the top down. And for African-Americans, the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney has significant consequences. Romney opposed the Recovery Act, which lifted 1.3 million African-Americans out of poverty, in addition to the auto rescue, which saved an industry that has been called “the engine of the Black middle class.”

If elected president, Romney is proposing to return us to the same failed policies that got us into this mess with plans that independent experts say would slow the economy and fail to create jobs now. He opposes the president’s plan to create jobs right away and accelerate the recovery by keeping teachers in classrooms, putting construction workers back on the job, and helping low-income youth and adults find work. To add insult to injury, while Romney is pushing to give a 25 percent tax cut to millionaires and people like himself, he proposes to actually raise taxes on at least 2.2 million African-American families.

Mitt Romney and Michael Steele clearly are not thinking about making investments that will move this country forward for the long haul. Their agenda would slash funding for Pell Grants, which help millions of African-American students afford a college education, and leave our public school students stranded without a plan to improve their schools. Moreover, they want to repeal Obamacare, which would strip more than 7 million African-Americans of their health care coverage and would allow insurance companies to take advantage of consumers again.

So clearly, Romney’s desperate attacks against the president are nothing more than that. It is obvious that the Romney campaign is trying to deflect attention away from his abysmal policies and silence the American people’s questions about when he’s going to release his tax returns, and whether he profited from outsourcing jobs and bankrupting companies. Romney’s going to have to answer these questions eventually, and until he does, the American people aren’t going to be distracted by his desperate distortions. Rep. Karen Bass represents California’s 33rd district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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