Obama Populist Speech: "Make Or Break Moment For The Middle Class"
According to The New York Times: "Infusing his speech with the type of populist language that has emerged in the Occupy protests around the nation, Mr. Obama warned that growing i meant that the United States was undermining its middle class. He said it 'gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is the place where you can make it if you try.'
Obama delivered his speech in a high school gymnasium in Osawatomie, the same small town where Roosevelt rolled out his progressive agenda in 1910.
Among the major messages of the economic speech, the president championed the middle class, calling for wealthier Americans to pay more taxes and for big corporate interests to follow the rules. “This country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules," he said.
To that end, the president called on Congress to pass an extension of the payroll tax cuts.
At issue is the tax on workers that helps fund the Social Security Trust Fund. As part of a budget-cutting deal last December, Obama and Congress negotiated a reduction of 2 percentage points in the payroll tax rate -- from 6.2% to 4.2%.
The cut meant a family of $50,000 paid about $1,000 less in payroll taxes. With the reduced rate expiring on January 1, Obama and Democrats seek to expand the provision by lowering the rate even further -- to 3.1% -- for another year.
"If we don't do that," Obama said, "160 million Americans, including most of the people here, will see their taxes go up by an average of $1,000 starting in January, and it would badly weaken our recovery."
With the election just 11 months away, Obama's speech was part of a strategy to cast the Republicans as the party beholden to the rich and blame them for obstructing his efforts to boost the fragile economy and slash high unemployment, considered crucial to his re-election chances.
"Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. Well, I'm here to say they are wrong," he said.
Republicans criticized the president's speech as distraction from what they allege is Obama's woeful record on the economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it "cheap political theater." And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney hit back at the president's attempt to invoke Teddy Roosevelt, telling Fox News in an interview Tuesday: "Teddy Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose party. One of those words applies here when the President is talking about what he'd do to this economy."
Republicans are hoping to use the president's economic record against him in next year's election. Despite the fact that unemployment numbers dropped last month to 8.6 percent, no sitting president has been reelected with a jobless rate that high.
Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?
Or join our email list below to enjoy the weekly Neon Tommy News Highlights.