I just finished reading the draft of a speech the President plans to deliver on Wednesday, and I want to explain why it’s one worth checking out.
Eight years ago, not long after he was elected to the United States Senate, President Obama went to Knox College in his home state of Illinois where he laid out his economic vision for the country. It’s a vision that says America is strongest when everybody’s got a shot at opportunity – not when our economy is winner-take-all, but when we’re all in this together.
Revisiting that speech, it’s clear that it sowed the seeds of a consistent vision for the middle class he’s followed ever since. It’s a vision he carried through his first campaign in 2008, it’s a vision he carried through speeches like the one he gave at Georgetown University shortly after taking office that imagined a new foundation for our economy and one in Osawatomie, Kansas on economic inequality in 2011 -- and it’s a vision he carried through his last campaign in 2012.
All of these speeches – Knox College, Georgetown, Osawatomie – make clear that since day one, the President has had one clear economic philosophy: The American economy works best when it grows from the middle-out, not the top down.
This Wednesday, almost five years after the financial crisis fueled a devastating recession, and two years after a debate over whether or not America would pay its bills that harmed our recovery, the President will return to Knox College to kick off a series of speeches that will lay out his vision for rebuilding an economy that puts the middle class and those fighting to join it front and center. He’ll talk about the progress we’ve made together, the challenges that remain, and the path forward.
And over the next several weeks, the President will deliver speeches that touch on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America: job security, a good education, a home to call your own, affordable health care when you get sick, and the chance to save for a secure, dignified retirement. They will include new ideas and new pushes for ideas he has discussed before. They’ll outline steps Congress can take, steps he’ll take on his own, and steps the private sector can take that benefit us all.
The point is to chart a course for where America needs to go – not just in the next three months or even the next three years, but a steady, persistent effort over the long term to restore this country’s basic bargain for the middle class.
Why now? Well, we've made important progress with the Senate passing comprehensive immigration reform and will continue to work with the House to push to get that enacted into law. But the President thinks Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball on the most important issue facing the country. Instead of talking about how to help the middle class, too many in Congress are trying to score political points, refight old battles, and trump up phony scandals. And in a couple of months, we will face some more critical budget deadlines that require Congressional action, not showdowns that only serve to harm families and businesses -- and the President wants to talk about the issues that should be at the core of that debate.
As I was reading through his draft, I was reminded what drives this President to work so hard. I hope you’ll watch this video showing the context of the last eight years and then tune in on Wednesday to find out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.