A virtual conversation with President Barack Obama....
Good to see you again, Mr. President.
And good to see you back for another of our discussions. I like them. What's on your mind today?
Sir, with Congress in recess and the fall campaigns cranking up, maybe it's a good time to review some of the high points of your presidency. Perhaps we could begin with the economy and the stimulus.
I have said repeatedly that we had to do something to clean up the mess the Bush/Cheney administration left me. I have worked tirelessly and I am proud of what I have accomplished with the help of the Democratic Congress. Though I begged them for it, bipartisan help from the Republicans was practically nil.
Unemployment hovering near 10 percent, with underemployment -- those wanting work but no longer looking for it -- between 17 and 24 percent? And a $12 trillion explosion of publicly held debt over the next decade? You've got to be kidding.
I couldn't be more serious. And the economy is beginning to roll.
Sir, the economy is stagnant at best. Some say the recession is not necessarily over. Others say there's minimal growth. The record shows that tax cuts boost growth and create jobs. Yet come January you seem set to let the Bush tax cuts expire.
I have said: "As November approaches, leaders in the other party will campaign furiously on the same economic arguments they've been making for decades. (They gave) tax cuts...to millionaires who didn't need them. They gutted regulations and put industry insiders in charge of oversight."
And the Bush tax cuts?
Bush/Cheney and the Republicans left me with exorbitant projected deficits. Those tax cuts were "skewed to the wealthy." We don't need to cut spending but to recognize "the dangers of an unfettered market." Fat cats don't own the show, and they shouldn't be allowed to run it. Government is best. "Only government has been able to do what individuals couldn't do and corporations wouldn't do."
You mean pander to the unions? You mean limit corporate free speech while not limiting unionists' free speech? You mean make Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern one of the most frequent visitors to the White House -- and name him to your budget deficit commission?
I mean such things are central to my mission, and the heart of what I am all about. Can we move on to something besides the economy?
Of course. Immigration? Why are you holding border security hostage to (your words) "comprehensive immigration reform"? Arizona has a problem.
Arizona's problem is too many Republicans. They are denying the civil rights of the nation's immigrant labor force.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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