Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
The Hutchinson Report
American Urban Radio Network
Al Sharpton Show
Monday 10:00-11:00 AM PST 2:00 to 3:00 EST
Streamed on http://tunein.com/radio/WURD-900-s23419
KPFK Radio Los Angeles 90.7 FM
Saturdays Noon to 1:00 PM PST
Streamed on http://www.kpfk.org/programs/181-hutchinson-report.html
EOH: What is the single biggest obstacle that the Democrats and President Obama are facing?
TMJ: There is a long list. Not to be overly simplistic, but I personally think the biggest obstacle is going to be enthusiasm with our voting base in the Democratic Party and among independents. I hope we will overcome that in the election. But it’s a long ways away.
EOH: How does the Democratic Party and the President revive that enthusiasm again?
TMJ: We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that a number of the President’s detractors, and they were always there. I don’t subscribe to the theory that a number of people who voted for him will work against him. It’s a different tone now. As opposed to optimism and enthusiasm, I think there needs to be a tone to increase turn out that is one of caution about the alternatives and a sober sense of reality and what we could be facing in the way of policy changes should the president not be re-elected.
EOH: I feel that the point is not the percentage of voters, but how many will show up to vote on election day.
TMJ: I think that’s right. I think Herman Caine’s brief candidacy provided a good excuse to take a deeper look at that particular part of the voting apparatus. A lot of the states that will be key states in the next election are states where African American votes and turn out will be key issues.
EOH: The media is driving the message and the public is buying into the propaganda that big government is the problem. How does the President reverse that thinking?
TMJ: It is, and with a lot of help from Republican campaign operatives and candidates as well. President Clinton was very determined to put a lot of positive public policy points on the board and to do it in a way that would help change the paradigm, which has been a problem for Democrats going back decades; in short that Democrats can’t handle the economy and are soft on foreign policy. Clinton tackled the economy and brought the budget under control; did not show weakness on national security, and took steps to shrink the size of government and brought more efficiency to government to get more positive results so that the government agencies were focused on working on behalf of the American people.
EOH: Is there any merit to the fact the President has made “too nice” with Republicans and can it cost him?
TMJ: It’s discouraging to hear that. The challenge for him is a divided government, even before the most recent election where the House changed hands. The challenge has been to find a middle ground to get things done. Frustration ought to be directed at Republican opponents who would not come to the table to discuss alternatives and find a middle ground. His willingness to do that should be applauded by his supporters because that is the way we are going to make progress on public policy.
EOH: Democrats have been open about not doing anything to help this president. They are determined to make him a one-term president. Are they electioneering at the expense of the American people?
TMJ: I agree that this question should be asked of the GOP leadership.
EOH: Can you walk us through what transpired in transforming government by the Democrats in the 1990’s?
TMJ: Comments have been made that the Republicans in Congress dragged President Clinton to that point, when in fact the strategy was one that Clinton had outlined as a candidate for president in 1991. His speeches before election on economy, government policy and foreign policy track everything President Clinton attempted to do after his election. The effort to reinvent government started before President Clinton took the oath of office, and work on it began within weeks of his arrival. It was a sustained effort for the full 8 years of his presidency. It targeted everything from the government procurement process to re-organization of agencies to make sure they were focused on serving the American people and streamlined so they would not be the excess Democrats often get tagged with. Everything was on the table and addressed, which resulted in savings of several billion dollars, reams of regulations, and reduction in the size of government personnel. As you note government has increased considerably since then, most recently during President Bush’s administration.
EOH: I feel there may be a conflict of cutting too much, and public spending to jumpstart the economy.
TMJ: I think that is the case. One of the things we were focused on trying to address was to make sure t we not sacrifice the quality of the programs the country needs to move forward and help people get to a point where they can help themselves and others. Not a hand out, but opportunities. If it is not done in a thoughtful way, it can attack a lot of valuable programs and reduce our ability to improve opportunities for everyone.
EOH: Many GOP members attack programs that help their own relatives who depend on these programs. The hypocrisy level is off the charts.
TMJ: There is a level of inconsistency in the sense that if you point a figure on the evils of the deficit, but turn a blind eye to the impact that excessive tax cutting is going to have. President Clinton faced this in the 90’s. People could look at their bank accounts and see improvements. That has not been the case until recently where the market came back under President Obama. There is a level of hypocrisy that sometimes applies to those who suggest the deficit needs to be cut drastically without rational thought.
EOH: Will President Obama’s core base come together again?
TMJ: I believe it will. It’s one thing when the numbers in the polls are being compared to a generic candidate. I think the notion of “are you better off” will come into focus because people are far better than they were because of the hard decisions he has made. I think the economic message will resonant better with the American people in the coming year, and I think the stark contrast of his opponent will help him.