President Obama summed up the need for a comprehensive budget deal with these memorable words: “If not now, when?” Many may have presumed that the President was trying to appease right-wingers by quoting their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, who used the same quote without attribution in his second inaugural address.
Actually, the author is Rabbi Hillel, who lived from 30 BCE to 9 CE and is recognized as one of the very greatest Jewish scholars in history. The full quote is, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
The President would do well to remember the entire quote. The President was elected because he is a man of the people. If he doesn’t stick up for his core constituencies, who will be for him? If he wants to serve the country he loves, he needs to get reelected. I hear talk that his reelection is not a sure thing. If he buckles on social security, on medicare, on tax breaks for millionaires, then I guess one has to wonder from whom his passionate support will come.
And what of these people whose greed is so out of control and so over the top that they have the nerve to say that they need more tax cuts? They are only for themselves, and the President doesn’t need to lower himself to their level. Indeed, he needs to oppose these kleptocrats.
By the way, if President Obama wants to pay homage to St. Ronny, he should remind the Republicans that during Reagan’s term the debt ceiling was raised 17 times, taxes were raised in 7 of 8 years, and tax rates were higher than they are now.