President Obama was in Denver today where he said he wore the Republican allegations of class warfare as a badge of honor because he is fighting for the middle class.
We’re not doing this to punish success. This is the land of opportunity. What’s great about our country is our enduring belief that anyone can make it and everyone should try. But what’s also an American idea is that those of us who have done well should pay our fair share to contribute to the upkeep of the nation that made our success possible. None of us got here on our own. We got here because others invested in us. We need to make sure this generation of students can go to college on student aid or scholarships, like I did. We need to make sure we keep investing in the kind of government research that helped create the internet, which countless private sector companies then used to create tens of millions of jobs. And I think most wealthy Americans would agree with that.
Of course, the Republicans in Congress call this class warfare. Well you know what? If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or teacher makes me a warrior for the working class, I’ll wear that charge as a badge of honor. Because the only class warfare I’ve seen is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade.
This is about priorities. This is about choices. If we want to pay for this jobs plan, and close this deficit, and invest in our future, the money has to come from somewhere. Would you rather keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or do you want construction workers to have a job rebuilding our schools and roads and bridges? Would you rather keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or do you want to put teachers back to work, and help small businesses, and cut taxes for middle-class families?
It is time to build an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs in this country. It’s time to build an economy that honors the values of hard work and responsibility. It’s time to build an economy that lasts.
The charge of class warfare is a powerful one. Since Republicans brought up the issue, Obama is more than happy to discuss their own campaign of class warfare against 98% of the country. It was the Republican Party that was willing to throw 1 million people off of unemployment before Christmas if that was what it took to keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich in place. Every element of Republican economic theory for the past decade has been based on trickle down economics. Over the course of the last three decades there have been precious few Democrats in leadership who were willing to stand up for the middle class.
Obama seems to channeling a bit of Bill Clinton. The president spoke about Clinton as a candidate back in 2007, “‘He helped refocus the Democratic Party on the middle class, on getting things done, he shook out some of the excesses of the Democratic Party, because he was the right person at the right time.’”
President Obama is now doing exactly what he said Bill Clinton with his presidency. He is focusing the Democratic Party back on the middle class. Republicans think they are smearing Obama when they accuse him of class warfare, but it is actually a compliment. The economic policies of the previous decade have turned America into a two class society, rich and poor or have and have not.
Instead of shying away from the Republican criticism, he is embracing it. Because the Republicans are less popular than he is, any criticism of the president from them should serve as a de facto endorsement of his policies in the minds of many Americans.
Obama wants to carry the banner of middle class warrior into the 2012 elections, and the Republican howls of class warfare only serve to make him stronger.