CLEVELAND, Ohio - In a powerful, hard-hitting speech here June 14, President Barack Obama exposed the fraudulent "top down" economic plans of Republican candidate Mitt Romney and laid out a program of recovery based on strengthening the middle class.
With an enthusiastic crowd of 1,500 at Cuyahoga Community College repeatedly chanting "four more years," Obama called on voters to break the logjam in Congress by electing the Democratic ticket.
"What's holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take. This election is your chance to break that stalemate."
Despite fierce Republican opposition, Obama said his administration has managed to create a fragile recovery with slow but steady job growth by investing in manufacturing, rescuing the auto industry and providing assistance to the public sector.
Romney and the GOP insist on restoring policies that created the crisis and call for more corporate deregulation and adding $5 trillion dollars in new tax cuts mainly benefiting the rich, he charged. They propose paying for this revenue loss with unprecedented slashing of education, health care, job training and all government programs except for national security and a few other basic functions and raising taxes on middle income people.
"There's nothing new in this," Obama said. "It's the same ideas they tried before except on steroids."
No independent economists believe the GOP plan will reduce the deficit or create jobs, he said. These policies did not work in the past, "why would we think they would work better this time?"
"I've got a different vision for America," he said to loud applause. "You can't have a strong and growing economy unless you have a strong and growing middle class...not an economy built from the top down."
This means, he said, investing in education, research and development, renewable energy, rebuilding the infrastructure and paying down the deficit with higher taxes on the rich. This is the vision behind the jobs bill that would create up to one million jobs, he said, and his plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion "through shared sacrifice."
"It's this vision that Democrats and Republicans used to share, that Mr. Romney and the current Republican Congress have rejected in favor of a no-holds-barred, government-is- the-enemy, market-is-everything approach."
But, he said, he intends to carry this vision forward and he outlined plans to expand funds for education, recruit "an army of new teachers," provide them with better pay, stop deportation of "hardworking, responsible young immigrants," "become a global leader in renewable energy," end subsidies to oil companies, expand investments in science and rebuild the infrastructure.
"My plan is take half the money we are no longer spending on war and let's do some nation-building here at home. Let's put some people to work right here."
The GOP, he said, will not cooperate with any plan that "asks the wealthiest Americans to pay even a nickel more in taxes" even though they now enjoy the lowest tax rates in generations.
That is what is blocking action on jobs, economic recovery and deficit reduction.
"It's the biggest source of gridlock in Washington and the only thing that can break this stalemate is you! You, the people have the final say. Your vote will determine the future of our economy."
"We remain the wealthiest nation on earth," he said. "What's lacking is not the capacity to meet our challenges. What is lacking is our politics and that's something entirely within your power to solve."
"So this November," Obama said, as the crowd stood and cheered, "you can provide a mandate for the change we need right now. We can move this country forward!"
Photo: Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP Photo