President Barack Obama presented his final budget proposal to Congress today: a hefty $4 trillion intended to invest heavily in clean energy, education, and healthcare by increasing taxes on the wealthy, banks, and large corporations.
His ambitious, progressive plans that will undoubtedly put America on the right path were met with almost universal condescension and disavowal from Republicans, who claimed the new taxes and increased debt would only be burdens to the American people.
However, Obama’s desire to push America along in terms of investing in its citizens proves exactly why he is a president that will be sorely missed, particularly if we consider the current Republican field of candidates.
As David Brooks (a Republican) delineated in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, “Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss.” Obama possesses now-rare qualities of “basic integrity…basic humanity…[a] sound decision making process...grace under pressure...[and] resilience of optimism.”
His policy proposals exemplify this. The new budget hopes to increase Medicaid expansion by an additional $2.6 billion and incentivize 19 states to provide this extra healthcare coverage to their citizens; it seeks to expand early childhood education; with $14.1 billion, it puts emphasis on the need to invest in clean energy programs and technologies to combat climate change.
It also reflects the notion that big banks and corporations currently aren’t contributing their fair share of taxes. The $10 tax per barrel on Big Oil is something that has already been hotly contested by Republicans, and with the “Buffet rule,” millionaires would be required to pay up to 30 percent of their income in taxes. These new taxes would generate hundreds of billions of dollars.
Obama clearly knows he is facing a hostile Congress that will not be receptive to many of these ideas and proposals. Yet the way he prioritizes the budget—what Politco calls “a grab bag of Democratic priorities”—reveals the underlying good judgment and forward thinking that has permeated much of his presidency.
It’s the type of leadership we will not be seeing if any of the Republicans win the 2016 election. Brooks notes that, “Obama’s basic approach is to promote his values as much as he can within the limits of the situation”; his leadership is both measured and principled.
The public seems to largely agree. “I Will Miss Barack Obama” was trending on Twitter for much of the day, as users lauded the president’s consistent integrity and civility.
I suspect we’re ALL going to be missing Obama around this time next year. Even those who think otherwise now. https://t.co/IO7aS3IZ4Y— Scott Wilson (@antinetizen1) February 9, 2016
Even a conservative commentator says this: "I Miss Barack Obama" https://t.co/aVrRjqYkj4— Chiho Watanabe (@Chiho_Watanabe) February 9, 2016
We’re all going to miss President Obama more than we realize. Class acts are hard to come by this cycle. https://t.co/GoKXER4eH6— Kawika Holbrook (@kawika) February 9, 2016
I Miss Barack Obama - brilliant piece on why Obama has been seriously undervalued by the US people https://t.co/d6FbMHZumV— clrthrn (@clrthrn) February 9, 2016
I've long felt people underappreciate how Obama has conducted the presidency with such integrity. Brooks gets it: https://t.co/9LDxPgCa1R— Faiz (@fshakir) February 9, 2016
With his last budget proposal, Obama proves he is no lame duck president. He will fight for his values until the very end of his presidency.