Democratic Convention: Day 2
From a New York Times article:
Wednesday night is attack night. Elizabeth Warren, who is trying to unseat Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, will offer up her particular brand of Democratic-base appeal, while former President Bill Clinton will play the part of Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate who slammed Mr. Obama in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday night. Expect to hear a broad takedown of the Republican agenda.
Last week, we heard Republicans repeatedly asking the question Reagan posed in 1980: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? In preparation for tonight’s festivities, let’s take a look at where we were in September of 2008.
That was the month President George W. Bush told us the economy was about to collapse. Big banks went under, and several others were about to go. Bush wanted a trillion dollars to be given to his Treasury Secretary, without strings, to be handed out as he saw fit to avoid the crisis.
John McCain suspended his campaign to deal with the emergency. Barack Obama, proving he could walk and chew gum, led the discussions in Washington, and helped to structure the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) which brought America back from the brink of collapse — without suspending himself.
American jobs were being shed at half a million each months, the record being set in January of 2009, in which nearly 800,000 jobs were lost in that month alone. In total, the Great Recession lost us around eight million jobs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was on its way down from over 14,000 to its floor, in March of 2009, of about 6,500. General Motors and Chrysler were about to go bankrupt. Lending froze; banks simply stopped making loans. Home values began plummeting.
America was still fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghan war had gone on for nearly seven years. It could have ended much sooner, but President Bush decided to invade Iraq, shifting resources away and allowing Osama bin Laden to escape. We should have had active troops in neither war. Already, we’d wasted over a trillion dollars, and lost more American lives than had been killed in the September 11 attacks seven years previously.
The American health care system was in shambles. Both major parties had put forth proposals for repair, and health care reform was a major issue in the general campaign.
President Bush had turned the $300 billion Clinton surpluses into $400 billion deficits. In fiscal 2009, which began in October of 2008, and had been running for over three months before President Obama was sworn in, would see a Bush deficit of around $1.5 trillion (originally estimated at $1.7 trillion, but reduced by President Obama in its last few months to around $1.4 trillion).
Where are we today?
Of the eight million jobs lost in the Great Recession, we’ve gotten over four million back (compared to about one million jobs created during the entire eight years of the Bush Administration). We’ve had twenty-seven months of private sector job growth. The economy has grown every month for nearly three years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has doubled its value from its March, 2009, low…and is now around 13,000. We’re well on the way to coming back from the worst economic crisis in nearly eighty years.
President Obama helped push through a major financial reform bill, including the creation of a financial consumer protection agency. We now have a major health care reform bill, a goal for presidents back to Theodore Roosevelt. The Iraq War is done; there are no American combat troops in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.
More: Pell grants have been expanded, to allow more Americans to go to college. Important protections have been enacted for women and minorities. A major arms treaty with Russia has been signed — and approved by the Senate. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been repealed, and for the first time, gay and lesbian troops can serve in the American armed forces without fear of a court martial.
Banks are loaning again. The housing market is rebounding. Home sales are up, prices are beginning to recover, and new home starts are rising. More construction jobs are being created than at any time since the 1990s.
America’s borders are safer than they’ve ever been. More people who were in the country illegally have been deported than under George Bush. But young adults who were brought to America illegally as children, and who have been good neighbors while here, can pursue a college degree and can work here without fear of deportation.
Crises in Egypt and Libya were handed deftly and with skill; in Libya, the President forged an international consensus to see to the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, whereas in Egypt, the President helped to ensure that Hosni Mubarak was deposed by the Egyptian people themselves, without outside interference.
They Gulf oil spill was contained, and those responsible are being held to account, the cleanup proceeding apace, and managed responsibly. Contrast this with the disaster and inept disregard of the Bush Administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.
And all this has been accomplished despite unyielding and inflexible opposition from the Republican Party. As only one example: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed with not a single Republican vote in the House, and only three in the Senate — and this Act has been instrumental in helping to create four million jobs and to bring America back from an almost certain second Great Depression.
The President had a filibuster-proof sixty votes in the Senate for just under six months (from July 7, when Senator Al Franken was sworn in, to August 25, when Senator Edward Kennedy died, and from September 25, when Senator Paul Kirk was appointed to replace Kennedy, to February 4, when Senator Scott Brown took office)…not that Senate Democrats have always been coöperative either; the term “herding cats” was undoubtedly coined for these people. Outside of that brief period, Republicans in the Senate have been able to block any legislation they wanted to, and they’ve made it plain they want to block everything.
The President prevented a second complete fiscal meltdown in the summer of 2011, when Congressional Republicans threatened to allow America to default on its fiscal responsibilities for the first time in history. President Obama brokered a deal — by no means a perfect one, but the only one that could be accepted by the opposition party.
Are we better off than we were four years ago? There’s no question of that. Nor is there any question of a rather impressive record behind this President. One can assume Republicans don’t approve of these achievements. But no one can pretend that the achievements are either meager or minor.
I expect these achievements to be highlighted tonight and tomorrow night, along with the contrast between the direction they represent and the direction Mitt Romney would take us.
As Michael noted yesterday, Democrats have been slow to publish the schedules of the Convention’s three nights. One thing we do know is that The Big Dog, former president Bill Clinton, will speak tonight, and will nominate President Obama’s for reëlection. We will strive to update this article with the schedule as it becomes available.
We encourage you to join in tonight’s discussion.
(Added: Below are some highlights of tonight’s schedule. It’s a crowded field.)
5:00 PM EDT
- Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois
- Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado
- John A. Pérez, speaker of the California State Assembly
- Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino
- Rep. Judy Chu of California
- Steve Westly, former state controller and CFO of California
- An Economy Built to Last video: Small Business
- Rep. John Larson of Connecticut
- Deputy Sheriff Ken Myers, Carroll County, Iowa
6:00 PM EDT
- Richard Trumka, president, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
- Rep. Steve Israel of New York
- Sen. Patty Murray of Washington
- Pedro R. Pierluisi, non-voting member of U.S. House, resident commissioner of Puerto Rico
- An Economy Build to Last video: Energy
- Tom Steyer, co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy
- Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York
- Rep. Karen Bass of California
- Rep. Al Green of Texas
- Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri
- Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy
7:00 PM EDT
- Denise Juneau, superintendent of the Montana Office of Public Instruction
- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
- Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
- Education Secretary Arne Duncan
- Progress for People video: Education
- American Voices: Johanny Adames
- Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt
- Video: in memoriam
- Harvey B. Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte, N.C.
8:00 PM EDT
- Stronger Together video: Women’s Health
- Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
- Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland
- Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts
- American Heroes video: Veterans
- Gen. Eric Shinseki
- Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
- Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization, NETWORK
- Delaware Gov. Jack Markell
9:00 PM EDT
- Karen Mills
- American Voices: Bill Butcher
- California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
- Benita Veliz, DREAM Act activist
- Cristina Saralegui, journalist, actress and talk show host
- Sandra Fluke, attorney and women’s rights activist
- Austin Ligon, co-founder and former CEO of CarMax Inc.
- American Voices: Karen Eusanio
- UAW President Bob King
- Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt and David Foster: former employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital
- Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland
10:00 PM EDT
- Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco
- Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senate in Massachusetts
- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee
- Former President Bill Clinton
- GOP Claims Credit for Bin Laden’s Death but Not For Nation’s Deficit? (ireport.cnn.com)
- Can Obama sell Romney as a Bursh retread to a divided nation? (capitolhillblue.com)
- Obama Lays Foundation for Speech Stressing Choices (bloomberg.com)
- The Truth About Who’s Responsible For The Explosion In Government Spending (businessinsider.com)
- Obama campaign to highlight drawdowns in Iraq, Afghanistan (thehill.com)
- Gallup: GOP convention had “minimal impact” on voter attitudes (blogs.mcclatchydc.com)
- Romney has no ‘single new idea’: Obama — NEWS.com.au (news.com.au)
About dcpetterson (194 posts)
D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He is the author of A Melancholy Humour, Rune Song and Still Life. He lives with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a lizard, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar and piano, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts—for fun. Follow on Twitter @dcpetterson