Four years ago after I watched President Obama’s inaugural address, I wondered if the president could do what was needed for American consumers. Special interests were so strong during the George W. Bush presidency and did so much damage, I wondered if Obama would be successful in fighting for consumer interest.
As we now know, the results of Obama’s first four years were mixed for consumers.
What can consumers expect from Obama’s second term?
In his inaugural address Monday, the president gave a clear message about the need for people, especially political parties, to work together to move America forward.
He talked about the need to improve economic conditions, the importance of equality, and the value of a rising middle class:
We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.
Interestingly in relation to the growing anger of younger generations against aging baby boomers, Obama referred to meeting the needs of both older Americans, which includes boomers, and young people. He said:
But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.
On programs for older adults, he said, “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.”
On helping those in need, Obama said: “Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
The president also mentioned:
- Regulating the business sector: “Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.”
- Climate change: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.”
The president also spoke at length about equality:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone... It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.
Obama said our journey isn’t complete until:
- Our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.
- Our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
- No citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.
- We find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity – until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
- All our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
The president said to make the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness real for everyone doesn’t require us to define liberty in exactly the same way or compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time. But, he said, “It does require us to act in our time.”
He urged others who take oaths and serve in the capital to faithfully execute their pledge.
Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
We’ll see how the president’s second term turns out.
Politics has been called the art of compromise. Let’s hope that lawmakers will be willing to make decisions that will move the country forward, and that most of their actions will be in the interests of consumers, not corporations.