Obama touts government service in election year

* Obama says government necessary for oversight

* Encourages students to engage in civil debate

By Jeff Mason

ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 1 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama,
whose legislative priorities include reforms that critics say
make the government too powerful, offered a broad defense on
Saturday of government itself before November elections.

Differences between Democrats and Republicans in U.S.
politics often boil down to a debate over the size of
government, and the issue, which covers topics as broad as
Obama’s push for healthcare and financial regulatory reform, is
likely to be a key topic in the upcoming poll.

Obama, a Democrat, used a commencement address at the
University of Michigan to encourage new graduates to engage in
civil debate — an issue Obama feels is often missing in
Washington — and expose themselves to different political
points of view.

But he focused the key message of his speech on the role of
government, couched in the context of Wall Street reform and
even the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We know that too much government can stifle competition
and deprive us of choice and burden us with debt,” he said.

“But we’ve also clearly seen the dangers of too little
government — like when a lack of accountability on Wall Street
nearly leads to the collapse of our entire economy.”

Obama, who will travel to the Gulf on Sunday morning to
observe efforts to avert an environmental disaster, cited laws
that will require oil company BP to pay for the damage and
cleanup as evidence of a government that works.

“Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety
standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies
that caused them,” he said.

Republicans opposed Obama’s overhaul of the healthcare
system largely on the grounds that it would put more authority
over citizens care in the hands of government.

But the president, with some humor, pointed out that the
argument could be taken too far, noting that a favorite sign he
saw while traveling the country was one that exhorted
politicians to keep government out of Medicare, a
government-run healthcare program for seniors.

“We can and should debate the role of government in our
lives. But remember … that the ability for us to adapt our
government to the needs of the age has helped make our
democracy work since its inception,” he said.

Obama noted that Republican presidents Abraham Lincoln,
Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower had launched big
government initiatives such as the first intercontinental
railroad, national parks, and the Interstate Highway System.

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Obama touts government service in election year