The seniors at the University of Miami watched the 44th president’s inauguration with the tempered hope that comes with the wisdom of age.
These weren’t students facing a new world of promise with a new president in the White House. These were senior citizens, many of them children during World War II, a few who fought in World War II and all of them committed to lifelong learning.
And their biggest fear, the one expressed most by several at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UM is whether President Barack Obama’s fix will amount to runaway inflation and even fewer jobs and retirement earnings, should the federal government spend a trillion dollars to stimulate the economy.
Obama definitely has his work cut out for him. Obama begins in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression of FDR.
Can Obama deliver such an audacious agenda?
Frankly, it’s not 1933. FDR had the luxury of a willing Congress and a passive press. You might think Obama enjoys these same perks, but this is a 24/7′ media driven world.
People don’t sit around and listen to a fireside chat from the president or read the newspaper at leisure. They blog and constantly have news channels give them information and analysis. Citizens can e-mail members of Congress and demand a stop to whatever is in the works, as happened with immigration reform proposed by President Bush.
Obama said the economy ‘calls for action, bold and swift.’
‘What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply,’ Obama said. ‘The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.’
I can’t imagine that this Congress will cut government workers’ pay or make its own health care plans comparable to that of the average worker.
The ground has shifted, but overcoming the fear of change in a broken economy will take more than an impressive speech maker. It will take a leader who stands up to his party. Many seniors in the classroom smiled as they watched Obama deliver his speech. Having lived through a world war and watched our country become the leader of the Free World, they know firsthand what awaits the next generation if Obama does nothing.