Obama should start 2nd term by asking what government should do for Americans, Yarmuth says

01/21/2013 01:17 PM

With President Barack Obama facing the next round of challenges in a second term, one of his closest allies in Kentucky said the president should start by broadening the debate to define what Americans expect from their government.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, told Pure Politics before Obama’s inauguration that the questions about handling the debt ceiling and federal spending cuts are the wrong questions at this point.

“What we should be doing is saying, What do the American people want government to do? … Historically, the federal government’s role has been, number one, to protect and preserve the country; secondly to provide services and infrastructure that benefit everyone and help the country grow, so dealing with research and infrastructure and education,” he said (2:30 of the interview). “Then the other things, we can debate.”

Obama did touch on theme in Monday’s inaugural address.

“Progress does not compel us to settle century’s long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time,” Obama said before calling for civility in such a debate. “For now, decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

The interview with Yarmuth also included a discussion about the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof’s article that highlighted fraud among Owsley County families who kept their children out of school so they would remain illiterate, and thus, “disabled” for the purpose of inflating their Supplemental Security Income. Yarmuth called it “immoral and borderline criminal — maybe not even borderline.” (3:15)

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.


  • viewer wrote on January 21, 2013 02:02 PM :

    Good luck Mr. President. I hope that 51 percent of Dems and 51 percent of Gop comes together to help this country over the next 4 yrs. We live in the best country ever built and we all have to give some. We can never govern from the 20 percent on the far left and the 20 percent on the far right fringe. Us 60 percent in the middle want to move the country forward. Bless the United State of America !!!!

  • Steve Granger wrote on January 21, 2013 08:10 PM :

    To have a sitting Congressman says that controlling spending is not a major issue for him and his liberal President is a flag that this country is dying before our very eyes. What kind of person could say that? All Yarmuth wants government to be is a candy store hand out place where everything is free. What a sick and disgusting viewpoint.

  • sam pierce wrote on January 22, 2013 11:52 AM :

    John F. Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Today most people are just looking for what the country will do for them. Until we stop this selfish attitude, our country will continue to get deeper in debt and spiral downhill. We need to change laws to encourage work and discourage government handouts. The earned income credit needs to be abolished to discourage the poor from having more children that they cannot support. It should be considered child abuse to keep a child out of school so they will be a candidate for disability. We need to discourage the poor from having children they cannot support, not reward them for having more children.

  • Bruce Layne wrote on January 22, 2013 01:06 PM :

    I don’t want a government that does much for me. I want the federal government to maintain a national defense force – to be used for defense. I want state and local governments to administer courts where a jury of peers determines guilt or innocence so we can protect our rights. The federal government has so neglected and abused its constitutional authority to coin money that I no longer trust them to do that. The fact is, government is WAY too large and almost every agency or administration is running in the red.

    I specifically DO NOT want government stealing from me through their confiscatory taxes, locking up non-violent “criminals” when there is not a clearly defined victim of some supposed crime so the prison industrial complex can profit, starting foreign wars of aggression that make our nation less secure so the military industrial complex can profit, giving money (or cell phones) to my fellow citizens to buy votes or giving money to foreign dictators to buy political favors for those well connected to our government.

    Yarmuth’s philosophy is completely wrong. It’s the reason that our nation is saddled with a debt of $16.4 trillion that is exponentially increasing. Our nation is bankrupt because elected officials such as representative Yarmuth think government is Santa Clause, every day is Christmas, and they don’t mind maxing out our national credit cards to buy presents for everyone. To quote Yarmuth himself, it’s immoral and borderline criminal — maybe not even borderline.

  • viewer wrote on January 22, 2013 03:23 PM :

    Some very good points and thoughts being talked about here. Well done guys. Finally some wisdom or interesting opinions from the citizens.

  • waybert17 wrote on January 24, 2013 11:41 AM :

    If we are going to have all the government that the Democrats want us to have, then the rich, along with the Hollywood rich are going to have to pay 90% of their income in taxes to the federal government. Otherwise, this piecemeal tax plan that the Democrats keep presenting means the deficit will continue to grow…and there will never be enough tax money to pay for all the goodies they want to give us. This, of course, means that the middle-class and the working poor will have to have their taxes increased substantially too. But hey! Consider all the cool stuff you are going to get from the government for free.

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