Don’t get me wrong– he’s not nearly as bad as some of the crooks we’ve had in office (does the name George W. Bush ring a bell?)– but since 2008 President Obama has disappointed my expectations more than I would have previously believed possible.
As a concession, I am happy to see that Obama is changing American foreign policy in such a way that it punishes governments that condone homophobia. So maybe he’s a modest champion in some areas. That being said, he could be doing a hell of a lot better.
Today President Obama made a sharp rebuke of Republican politics and sympathized with Occupy Wall Street as he campaigned for a payroll tax extension and promised to address corporate fraud:
“Too often, we’ve seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there’s no price for being a repeat offender. No more,” the President said during a speech to a high school class in Osawatomie, Kansas, today.
And while I believe that the President is portraying himself this way, I am far more skeptical of the Obama silvertongue than I was in 2008.
Before we get carried away and jump back four years — to when we had naïve swellings of hope for change to believe in — let’s see if Obama will follow through.
With national scrutiny bearing down on income equality, now is the perfect time for the federal government to support economic policy that actually protects and encourage the middle class.
But until we move off of insignificant legislation and stop protecting corporate interest over the common good, only then will any of our elected leaders have even a tiny chance of being called a populist supporter.
For starters, the President could simply prevent corporate fraud to the tune of nearly $200 billion dollars in misappropriated federal funds a year, if he were to issue a simple executive order prohibiting publicly traded companies from illegally receiving federal small business contracts.
On the campaign trail in 2008 President Obama made a promise to address federal fraud (similar to the speech he made today) when he stated, “It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.”
So what happened? Well, he didn’t follow through.
Last year, for instance, federal contracting fraud was rampant. The American Small Business League conducted a report of the top 100 highest dollar small business contractors for Fiscal Year 2010. Of those 100 companies receiving the highest dollars in federal small business contracts for FY 2010, 60 were actually large corporations, including some of the largest Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 corporations in the world.
Congress could also do something about this blatant abuse of the Small Business Act (which requires that 23 percent of all federal contracts must be awarded to small business) by passing H.R. 3184, “The Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act”, which was introduced to the House in October by Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson and currently has 17 co-sponsors and resides in the House Small Business Committee. (click here to sign a petition in support of passing H.R. 3184).
In Kansas today, the President said, “We shouldn’t be weakening oversight and accountability. We should be strengthening them. Here’s another example. Too often we’ve seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there’s no price for being a repeat offender. No more. I’ll be calling for legislation that makes these penalties count – so that firms don’t see punishment for breaking law as just the price of doing business.”
And while the President might have been alluding to a request by the SEC to increase penalties, FDL blogger David Dayden has it right in his December 6, 2011 post when he says, “It’s bracing to hear the President talk about penalties being too weak and absorbed by Wall Street as the cost of doing business when the hallmark of his Administration has been an unwillingness to prosecute Wall Street for systemic fraud. Action will be needed before I’m convinced anything has changed.”
I agree wholeheartedly with David Dayden. Barack Obama has shown great promise at times, but has relentlessly managed to attain uncertain, moderate, disappointing results.
But with intensified pressure on President Obama to fix our shambles of an economy, I’m hoping that the decade-long scandal of federal contracting fraud, which drains our middle class of nearly $200 billion in business a year, won’t go unnoticed for another 4 years.
So keep talking and questioning. And do me a favor, will ya tell Occupy for me that America’s 28 million small businesses create 90 percent of net new jobs (according to the Census Bureau)? And while you’re at it, please make the connection that small businesses could receive over $200 billion more annually– therefore creating 1.8 million net new jobs a year– if the government would just ensure that the illegal diversion of federal small business contracts to large corporations can no longer continue.
Oh ya— did I mention that this plan requires no new taxes and no new spending? What’s not to like?