TGB Reader John left a comment after President Barack Obama's speech yesterday:
"The speech was wonderful. Fox news headline: Obama declares 'Hands off Entitlements.' Hooray!
Well, Fox News, as frequently happens, got it wrong. What the president said is not nearly as definitive as that headline.
An inaugural, of course, is mostly a ceremonial occasion where the newly sworn-in president sets out his forthcoming agenda in only the most general terms. (There will be more specifics next month in his State of the Union address.)
But there is a two-minute section in the middle of yesterday's speech where Obama spoke of our – yours, mine, everyone's, the government's – commitments to each other that is heartening. Take a look:
As you can see, Fox News read way too much into what Obama really said. There are acres of wiggle room in his statement.
As encouraging as Obama's words are, it's not like he hasn't let down elders in the past nor that he might not do it again. But there is a promise in that statement and, as he said, a “commitment.” So when they start trying to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - which will be done soon - we can hold the president to this. Or, at least, do our best to hold him to it.
And it is up to us because the billions of dollars long lined up by opponents of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are being spent.
There is a good point about all this in another clip from Up with Chris Hayes over the weekend coming from a politician who is on our side for sure and who has experience in how it works in Washington. The first speaker is California Representative Barbara Lee. Then, pay close attention to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown:
That's a famous old story about Franklin Roosevelt telling some progressive labor leaders: “I agree with you. I want to do it. Now make me do it.”
Sherrod Brown did a nice job of reinforcing the FDR story and he is right that it is you and me who must make Obama do it: “We need the public to be really engaged...The people need to keep [the president] on course and not break these promises."
I thought you should see these two clips now to give you courage and stamina when the time comes – soon - to do the work to protect earned benefits for ourselves and for future generations.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ruth Parmet David: The Great Escape