And now another installment in my ongoing series “What Barack Obama Should Say!” (And, before you go blind looking for the other installments in the series, this is the first ongoing of the ongoing. )
Yesterday, when asked the seemingly “Duh” question of how many homes he owned (usual answer for most American’s being between zero and one) John McCain said: “I think, uh, I’ll have my staff get to you. I’ll try to tell you about that.”
Today, picking that low lying fruit, Barack Obama said: “I guess if you think that being rich means you’ve got to make $5 million, and if you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong,” he said. “If you’re like me, and you’ve got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don’t lose their home, you might have different perspective.”
McCain spokespiece Brian Rogers, immediately responded saying: “”Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?”
The answer by Senator Obama should be, of course, “Darn Tootin, Skippy. “
Barack’s response should be:
Yes, I made four million dollars last year. By that measure, I’m a millionaire. Which is something I don’t think my wife and kids – or anyone elses’, would complain that much about. Let’s be honest here, I’m a millionaire. And so is John McCain. But here’s the difference between us. John McCain wants to help today’s millionaires become tomorrow’s billionaires. I’m a millionaire who wants to help today’s non-millionaires to have a chance to get rich, too . John McCain is about the Millionaires’ Dream. I’m about the American Middle Class’ American Dream.
John McCain supports the so called Bush Tax Cut–which is actually a Tax Shift, pushing the cost of government from the broad shoulders of the rich to the overburdened shoulders of the middle class—to help keep making millionaires billionaires. John McCain supports off-shore oil Leasing—not drilling mind you, but leasing oil sites offshore to mega oil companies who already own thousands of acres of oil leases they refuse to drill on—to help make more millionaires billionaires. John McCain tells you off-shore leasing will bring down prices at the pump? With all due respect, the good Senator is, at least on this issue, either misinformed himself or deliberately trying to misinform you the people. All the rhetoric about off-shore drilling is a shell game by the very companies that helped bring you high gas prices to allow them to lock up total control of all future oil supplies in this country. Which will help make a few billionaires mega-billionaires, but won’t do one thing for your pocketbook the next time you gas up.
So do I want to get in to a debate about houses? The answer is, ‘No, I don’t.” At least, I don’t want to get into a debate about my one house or his ten. I do want to get into a debate about YOUR houses—the houses of millions of Americans in the middle class whose dream of home ownership–the gateway to middle class stability and prosperity—has been turned into a nightmare of debt and foreclosure because of rapacious business practices and a lax government oversight of rapacious business practices. A lax government, you can add, that spent all its time looking for WMD’s that didn’t exist over there while an Economic WMD – subprime mortages—went off over here.
I do want to get into a debate about the millions of Americans whose dream of entering the middle class through home ownership is now denied because the same rapacious business practices that were willing to loan to anyone any amount of money for any reason during the good times are now unwilling to loan anyone any amount for any reason in the bad times – the times when people DO need the help and support of their once friendly and now hostile neighborhood bankers.
I do want to get into a debate about a government that bends over backwards to bail out the big guys—and make no mistake about it, when Republicans decry Big Government its only the Big Government for the Little Guy they defame; Republicans love Big Government for the Big Guys, government of the people, by the people and for the richest people—a government that doesn’t hesitate to bail out Wall Street but is late to the game to bail out Main Street. Or bail out just about any Street in a City like New Orleans, I might add.
Senator McCain has accused me of being an elitist, of being out of touch with you, the American people. That may be true. I don’t live from pay check to pay check, like most Americans do. I did once – indeed, I did for most of my life. But not today. I do live in a million dollar house which most American’s don’t. Though I didn’t always and lived much of my life without owning a house—or living with a parent who did. My children do not go to bed at night hearing hushed whispers from their parents in the next room anguishing over which bills they can and can not pay, which medical procedure for which child they can or can not afford, how long they have before they lose their house to foreclosure or when will the layoff notice come. Though I once heard such hushed conversations—the grownups with the long faces—my children do not.
Yes, I am a millionaire. But I make no apologies for having achieved the very thing I, and millions of my fellow Americans have always dreamed of. I had a shot at the American Dream and I have achieved it beyond my own wildest dreams. I am proud to be an American success story and I am humble enough to realize it is only in America that my story could ever have been told. And that is why it is my ambition, my goal, to make the same dream I have lived and realized a reality for as many of my fellow Americans as possible.
So yes, Senator McCain, like you I am a millionaire. Unlike you I know how many houses I own – one, not ten. And, unlike you, I spend more of my time worrying about the plight of the vast majority of Americans who are not millionaires but who aspire for at least some of the lifestyle and securities millionaire’s enjoy—like guaranteed access to high quality housing, healthcare and education and economic stability and prosperity—than about those as rich or richer than myself.
Do not get me wrong. I do not condemn the rich. Many of those who enjoy great wealth today got to their esteemed stations in life the old fashion way – they worked hard for it. They worked and achieved the American Dream. Admittedly many of those who are rich got rich the even more old fashion way—they were born into wealth or married into it. But, even then America won’t get rich by attacking and destroying its rich. America will get rich by making room at the great national prosperity table for everyone. When the non-rich get rich the rich get richer. That’s the true American dream.
As John Kennedy said, a rising tide CAN lift all boats and not just the yachts will the average person’s dingy gets swamped.
For, after all, what would benefit the American corporate and economic elites’ bottom line more: an America filled with the remnants of a former middle class fallen into poverty where wages are stagnant or in decline and home ownership has collapsed? Or an America where the threshold for being in tomorrow’s middle class is what we’d call rich today? THAT is the 21st Century American dream.
And such a dream is not the stuff of flight and fancy. A century ago only the rich lived as well and as long as members of what we’d today call the middle class do. That tomorrow members of the middle class should live as well as those we call rich today? Well, Andrew Carnegie once famously and factually said that Capitalism is about turning luxuries into necessities. And that is what the free market, done correctly, should produce: a broad, vibrant and growing middle class of increasingly affluent Americans—every man a millionaire. Not a middle class in retreat, with a few men multi-billionaires in a society of declining prosperity.
So the Rich – God Bless ‘em. Indeed, God has. So much so that Government need not. It is time this American government stops worrying more about those who are already rich and more about those who some day should be rich.
So, Senator McCain, do I want to discuss houses? Yes sir, I do. For America’s economic house is in disorder. After a generation of policies to make the rich richer at the expense of the middle class its time to clean house and institute new policies. Policies that will make the middle class richer the poor richer AND the rich richer,
Fourteen Years Ago Bill Clinton said the age of big government was over. In that he meant the age of bloated, unaccountable government bureaucracies, he was correct. But today I say the age of Government for the Big Guy and the Big Guy alone, is over. The preamble of our Constitution, in describing the purposes for which We The People created this Union, stated one of the most important goals of this union is to “Promote the General Welfare.” For a generation we have been promoting the selective welfare—the welfare of those whose welfare is already assured. It is time for our government of the people, by the people and for the people to protect the welfare of ALL the people.
And not just those who own ten houses. Or their friends.
That’s what the man from Illinois should say. In my humble opinion, of course