In his first weekly radio address of 2011, President Barack Obama gave the GOP a preview of what they can expect in 2011 by stating in his New Year’s Resolution, that he is going to fight for the middle class and, “do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.”
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Obama began his address by talking about the Great Recession, “At the start of 2011, we’re still just emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime recession that’s taken a terrible toll on millions of families. We all have friends and neighbors trying to get their lives back on track.”
The President staked out his territory with the middle class in his New Year’s Resolution, “We are, however, riding a few months of economic news that suggests our recovery is gaining traction. And our most important task now is to keep that recovery going. As President, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.”
Later Obama kept the heat on Republicans, by restating his willingness to look at good ideas from either party, “Now it’s our turn to think about the future. In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans – who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward. And here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver.”
President Obama concluded by expressing his confidence that the nation is entering a period of progress, “We have come through a difficult decade; one of new threats and new trials we didn’t expect when it began. But a new year and a new decade stretch out before us. And if we just remember what America is capable of, and live up to that legacy, then I’m confident that we are poised for a period of progress – one in which our economy is growing, our standing in the world is rising, and we do what it takes to make sure America remains in the 21st century what it was in the 20th: the greatest country in the world.”
The Republicans are about to find out that their midterm election wins have made their lives a whole lot more difficult. When it comes to dealing with the GOP Obama now has something that he didn’t have over the last two years. The President now has leverage. Now that Republicans have some power in the legislative process, they are going to want more than to just block Obama’s agenda. They see the polls. They know that they are already seen as the obstructionist party, and that the American people want things to get done.
By framing himself as the defender of the middle class, President Obama has claimed his turf. By default if he is the defender of the middle class, then Republicans represent the wealthy. Since most Americans, no matter what their financial situation may be, view themselves as middle class, Obama’s message resonates with a wide audience. In his radio address, the President laid out the battle lines for 2011, and he placed himself on the popular side of strengthening the economy, job creation, and fighting for the middle class.
This New Year’s message provided the first concrete hint about President Obama’s 2012 reelection strategy. The Republican controlled House has given this president something to contrast himself with. He now has opposition that he can use to advance his arguments. Obama is going to position himself towards the middle, as a fighter for those Americans who are also in the middle of our economic pyramid, and paint the Republicans as extremists who are out to take from the many in order to give to the few at the top.
Republicans are about to find out that it is was a lot easier to say no when they had no personal stake, but in 2012 it will be their House majority on the line on Election Day, and President Obama is looks ready to ratchet up the pressure on them.
Obama welcomed the GOP to 2011 with a punch in the mouth. The game has changed, as we have entered a new phase in the presidency of Barack Obama.