President Obama’s speech this afternoon at Knox College was billed as the presentation of his economic vision. However, it turned out to be what I am sure will be the first of many campaign speeches for the 2014 midterms and offered Americans nothing new and certainly nothing close to a viable economic vision for the country.
Obama doubled down on his approach in 2012: division, polarization and moving to the left.
Much like in 2012, the president placed little emphasis on tax reform or growth. He spoke of bringing jobs back to America — specifically in manufacturing — but did not reveal many details of how he would achieve this.
We heard some talk balancing the budget and deficit reduction, cornerstone issues of the protracted battle in the House at the end of last year and beginning of 2013. But there was no talk of a long-term deficit reduction plan or plan for entitlement reform that will save crucial programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The president emphasized redistribution above all else, but with, again, no long-term plan as to how he would finally make this approach an effective one. Indeed, he hid behind the terms “ineffective government” and “broken Washington,” giving himself leeway in not having solved the economic problems that he promised to fix in both 2008 and 2012.
His partisan, antagonistic attitude was obvious and though Obama did say that there were some Republicans, notably those spearheading the Senate’s push for immigration reform, that were willing to work across the aisle, he added “gridlock is worse than ever.”
And while I don’t disagree, the president did not take any responsibility for this reality — he is as much a part of the problem as the GOP leaders.
What we needed to hear today was about the revitalization of America. Clear plans to reduce income inequality, which is at its highest levels. Support for a specific energy strategy and not just opaque talk of alternative energies. Programs to fix youth unemployment, including empowerment zones for poor African Americans and Latinos.
Essentially, we needed to hear President Obama’s vision for a viable, realizable American dream in today’s climate.
Americans are still looking to be inspired by this president and while Democrats will continue to support him, he is losing favor across all other groups because he simply cannot, and will not, deliver a plan that encourages Americans to believe that things really will get better.
The president claimed that “America has fought its way back,” but the numbers do not support his notions. Unemployment continues to hold at 7.5 percent. And a recent Rasmussen poll showed that 52 percent of Americans believe the country is in recession.
How is that fighting back?
To be sure, all of this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Obama said himself on Monday that this speech would not “change any minds,” offer any new proposals and that it would be “thematic” instead of prescriptive.
In those statements lies one of the great failures of the Obama presidency: it is the job of the president to change people’s minds, to offer new proposals and to be prescriptive. That is what we elected him — and all other presidents before him — to do.
After today’s speech, it is clearer than ever that the president will not be using the last three years of his term to create change — it will just be more of the same.
This is a reality that America cannot afford.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist, Fox News contributor, and author of several books including the recently released, "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond" (Rowman and Littlefield). Read more reports from Doug Schoen — Click Here Now.
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