In an Inauguration Day address that sought to harness the energy of the Civil Rights movement, President Barack Obama laid out an ambitious agenda that included protection for programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The President surprised many listeners when he listed action on climate change and ensuring equal justice for Gay Americans among the priorities for his second term.
Witnessed by nearly a million spectators, the event coincided with the federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and featured an invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was gunned down 50 years ago in the driveway of his Mississippi home.
President Obama’s remarks included not-so-subtle digs at his rivals during the recent electoral campaign, targeting the GOP theme that American had become a nation in dire need of steep cuts to established social programs.
“The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” declared Obama. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
In a letter of congratulations published in the official Inauguration Day program, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger thanked the president for his leadership during four years that “tested this nation like few periods in history.”
“Against a backdrop of widespread economic hardship, war and uncertainty, you delivered a positive and forward-looking message that continues to resonate with Americans of every stripe,” wrote Buffenbarger, who specifically cited the President’s support, against considerable political opposition, for laws that protect workers’ collective bargaining rights.