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Unity, not partisanship, needed to overcome recession

In his speech this week before Congress, President Obama described a pathway to emerging from our current economic woes. In his first weeks in office, the president has systematically engaged in the business of governing &endash; making proposals, seeking bipartisan counsel, and acknowledging that all Americans feel the negative effects of this current malaise.

As the Democratic leader reaches across the aisle to engage the Republicans in crafting solutions, it is unfortunate that the GOP crowd has dug in their heels and refused to cooperate. That certain state governors would say they will refuse funds earmarked for their consitituents is simply preposterous. You get the feeling that the Republicans are hoping Obama's solutions fail &endash; the economic prosperity of this country be damned. Somehow, they seem to believe the people who voted this President into office last November just had things all wrong, and if they hold on long enough, their brand of politics will prevail.

In the midst of the negative comments coming from the "loyal opposition," it is possible that Americans who did not hear the President's speech first hand will miss much of what he had to say. It might be instructive to review some of President Obama's remarks. He said:

"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely - to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jump-start job creation, restart lending, and invest in areas like energy, healthcare, and education that will grow our economy…."The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere. But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before…

"My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we've inherited: a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession. Given these realities, everyone in this chamber - Democrats and Republicans - will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars, and that includes me. But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. . . .

"There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. I know that. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground."

People in our neighborhoods know that the number of people who are hurting right now is significant, and it is growing. And in the short term things are likely to get worse, not better.There will be ample time for picking apart various proposals. But the debate about particulars must start now, and be underway in full. Now is the time for the political parties to stop grousing and act like grown-ups. Now, too, is the time for all to look to ourselves and our communities and see what we can do to help stimulate this needed economic recovery. Politicians and other community leaders who are not part of the solution, are not just part of the problem &endash; right now, these intransigent folks are the problem.