Congress, take cover. President Barack Obama wasn’t talking kindly about you in Kansas City. And with good reason.
As Congress winds down for its August break on Friday, with the world aflame in many places and major bills unfinished, Obama had a new riff on what’s wrong back in the U.S. Capitol. It’s the “hating” Congress, working on political stunts like impeachment, not the people’s business.
Obama’s short, feisty presentation Wednesday on the stage of the historic Uptown Theater was a full-meal deal for an audience eager for an up-close look at the nation’s executive. Other than tougher criticism of the cynicism stunting compromise in Congress, Obama’s speech was mostly a recap of previously announced initiatives.
He wants clean energy, worker retraining, tax breaks for companies that choose to keep their businesses in the country rather than seek tax loopholes overseas, pay equity for women and a higher minimum wage — all needed advancements.
It was the delivery that impressed the crowd. Adrienne Walker Hoard, director of black studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, saw the president speak in person for the first time. From her seat on the stage, she could see the teleprompter and was impressed by Obama’s ease at off-script remarks. His focus, especially on pay equity for women, suited her well.
Speaking shortly after the U.S. Commerce Department reported the American economy surged in the second quarter, putting growth back on an upward track for 2014, Obama used the news to emphasize the success of his efforts to stimulate the economy following the recession. Still, he pushed hard on improving the lot of the middle class to make the recovery a success for all.
His national campaign swing is all about the next elections, exhorting Democrats to get to the polls to avoid what some prognosticators predict could be a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. When fans booed references to the balky GOP, he had his retort ready: Do not boo. Vote.
Despite GOP criticism of the president’s recent forays, it’s unlikely that sticking close to D.C. would resolve issues still hanging. If anything, the GOP would criticize the president for being out of touch with “real” Americans.
Obama’s escape to the Heartland should keep him better grounded on how most of us live, strive and occasionally stumble in an economy that’s still weighted heavily toward the wealthy.