More than a century after Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “New Nationalism” address, President Barack Obama sounded similar themes Tuesday in the same town in the Republican heartland of Kansas, delivering a populist speech that called for extending the payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year. Obama described stark differences between a Republican ideology he described as leaving people to fend for themselves and his vision of government helping provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of where they begin in life.
“It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America,” Obama said in the 55-minute speech, which frequently prompted applause. “It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all society’s problems. “It’s a view that says in America, we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.”
The Roosevelt speech in 1910 was intended to unite a Republican Party divided by a reform movement seeking curbs on industrial might. Obama also seeks Republican unity, but this time the goal is to push through economic stimulus proposals and seek a political advantage for his Democratic Party.
He called for Congress to “immediately” extend the payroll tax cut, saying: “If we don’t do that, 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.” He framed the issue as a choice between making vital investments in future growth or the Republican position he characterized as maintaining “tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in our country.” “We can’t afford to do both,” Obama said. “That is not politics. That’s just math.” Republicans initially opposed the idea, saying the provision failed to create jobs last year. Now Republican leaders say they support an extension, but they differ with Obama and Democrats on how to pay for it. For more information check out the full article originally reported by CNN.com.
- Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt in populist re-election speech (news.nationalpost.com)
- Obama channels Roosevelt’s ‘New Nationalism’ – CNN (edition.cnn.com)
- Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt; argues for economic ‘fairness’ (thehill.com)