Obama's Osawatomie Moment
President Barack Obama travelled to Osawatomie, Kansas, the other day and delivered an unequivocal rebuke to current economic thinking. Citing the growing gap between the one percent of the nation who have seen their incomes double over the last decade and the middle- and working-class Americans who have seen their income shrink by six percent during that time, he urged Congress to support his plan for financial regulation and tax reform.
In assessing the political significance of Obama's speech, the conservative Wall Street Journal dryly noted: "Largely gone is the optimism about the US that he had in the State of the Union." Of course the optimism is gone. There is little or nothing to be optimistic about. Republicans have stonewalled every effort, every compromise suggestion to jump start the economy and curtail unemployment.
If congressional Republicans are dedicated obstructionists, then the pygmies seeking the GOP's presidential nomination are even worse. They dwell in an economic fantasyland where the pages of Norman Rockwell's America will again come alive, if the nation goes back to doing things the way that George W. Bush did.
At long last, Obama is telling it like it is — albeit without rancor. We understand that the president needs the support of undecided independent voters, who tend to lean conservative, if he is to hold onto the White House. Tough thinking in a soothing tone appears to be the strategy.
Frankly, the Phoenix would welcome a dash of class warfare. After all, the numbers — 99 percent versus one percent — favor our side.
Nevertheless, we applaud Obama's newfound economic populism. It doesn't take a political scientist to detect the influence that the Occupy movement has had on the national conversation, and on the president's thinking.
Likewise, Obama's speech bore an unmistakable whiff of Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren's can-do populism.
It appears that Obama is back in fighting trim.
: The Editorial Page
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