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 An article in Saturday's WaPo here describes a strategic shift in the Obama administration's rhetoric on income inequality. It seems that speaking of "inequality" has upset the Wall Street overlords, and so some careful polling, likely by Third Way, now magically documents that the American people don't like all this divisive talk anyway - I guess all that "we are the 99%" stuff was just media hype...  

Now it seems that President Obama has decided to fall into line with the Third Way conventional wisdom, and thus the literal Democratic "party line" is officially set for the 2014 mid-term elections and beyond. The decision was to in effect paper over a profound difference as between core Democratic versus Republican principals - and believe it or not this is thought of as a winning strategy.

Well, it's not in 2014 and it won't be in 2016 either. I need to be blunt here - it was this kind of cowardice that handed a version of the populist mantle over to the Tea Party four years ago - there was, and still is, no popular voice on the Democratic end to counter it (except to say they are simply crazy). There is no positive messaging with teeth from the Democrats anymore - talk of "increasing opportunity" is the same old weak tea they've been selling as the numbers continue to decline. Anyone with a pulse knows that there is a populist groundswell in US politics and it is squarely about inequality - to decide to ignore this is a horribly short sighted approach.

If Democratic voters think that making nice and trying to extend the big tent far enough to include the plutocrats that have taken all of the economic gains in the last six years, then the party is dead.

I would love to see the twisted polling questions that gave rise to the conclusion that the American people don't respond to talk of economic inequality, but at this point it doesn't really matter. Obama seems to have made his decision, and to those progressives out there, it feels once again like Lucy has yanked the football right before Charlie goes to kick it.

May there be a strong progressive challenge to Hillary. May courageous people emerge to shake up this ossified sclerotic politics we have!! May they find the tools to pick the lock of the corporate media, and broaden the communication. May potential voters find the inspiration to respond to people who actually tell the truth, and inject more compassion into our public policy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Obama made his choice (10+ / 0-)

    to stand between the banksters and the pitchforks.  He didn't get where he was by making plutocracy uncomfortable.

  •  Is he? (10+ / 0-)

    This sounds like a terrible reporter's attempts to rewrite a press release from some Third Way group trying to stay relevant in a world where progressive economic policies are beginning to win support and the possibility that they might actually be attainable in a post-Obama world.

    After making fighting income inequality an early focus of his second term, President Obama has largely abandoned talk of the subject this election year in a move that highlights the emerging debate within the Democratic Party over economic populism and its limits.

    During the first half of this year, Obama shifted from income inequality to the more politically palatable theme of lifting the middle class, focusing on issues such as the minimum wage and the gender pay gap that are thought to resonate with a broader group of voters.

    So he went from a vague concept to specific policy items that would target income inequality?
    Meanwhile, other left-leaning economists say it does not matter whether Obama chooses different language so long as he advocates the right policies.

    “When I hear inequality and middle class, they are two slices of the same thing,” said Heather Boushey, executive director of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “Politically, his job is to connect with his constituents in trying to figure out which of those phrases are the most compelling.”

    The horror.
    •  Is he? Here's what he said just five days ago (9+ / 0-)
      We went through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we’ve climbed back.  Since then, we’ve created 9.4 million new jobs over the past 51 months.  Corporate profits are up, stock market is up, housing is improving.  (Applause.)  Unemployment is down.  The deficits have been cut in half.  We’re making progress, but we still have a situation where those at the top are doing as well as ever but middle-class families all across the country are still struggling to get by.  There are people who are working hard, they believe in the American Dream -- it feels sometimes like the system is rigged against them.

      And they have good reason to think that way.  So far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to strengthen the middle class.  Not ideas that are unique to me, they’re not -- this isn’t Obama bridge.  (Laughter.)  It’s Key Bridge.  But the Republicans have said no to raising the minimum wage, they’ve said no to fair pay, they’ve said no to extending unemployment insurance for over 3 million Americans looking for a new job.

      And this obstruction keeps the system rigged for those who are doing fine at the top.  It prevents us from helping more middle-class families.  And as long as they insist on taking no action whatsoever that will help anybody, I’m going to keep on taking actions on my own that can help the middle class -- like the actions I’ve already taken to speed up construction projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs, and lift workers’ wages, and help students pay off their loans.  (Applause.)

      Why would corporate media distort the president's message? Oh, I'm sure it was just an accident. They wouldn't be out to divide the most progresssive voters from siding with Democrats. Oh, surely not.

  •  If raising the minimum wage isn't addressing (7+ / 0-)

    income inequality, I don't know what is.

    What were you expecting--Obama in Zucotti going "Occupy Everything"?

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:48:15 AM PDT

    •  Then you don't know what is. Every study or bit... (0+ / 0-)

      Then you don't know what is.

      Every study or bit of reporting that shows how raising the minimum wage will not do anything to harm a company's profitability is effectively saying that raising the minimum wage will not do anything to the CEO pay. In the amount the wage is being raised is negligible as compared to that CEO pay. Therefore, raising the minimum wage without doing anything else is doing nothing about the issue of income inequality.

      It requires action at both ends of the scale to reduce the income inequality gap.

      •  What does CEO pay have to do with anything? (0+ / 0-)

        I don't understand here. If this is about getting more money into the pockets of the working class, what difference does it make what the CEO is making?

        Am I wrong in thinking if he could pay a living wage and keep himself rich, more power to him?

        •  Income inequality (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Income inequality, working class income inequal as compared to.... To what? Why, CEO income of course.

          I don't want to know why you couldn't understand that.

          MLK Jr 7 days before being killed: "Maybe we just have to admit that the day of violence is here, and maybe we have to just give up and let violence take its course. The nation won't listen to our voice - maybe it'll heed the voice of violence."

          by JayFromPA on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:10:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And raising the minimum wage (0+ / 0-)

            and raising pay across the board takes care of that. What's your point?

            Income inequality happens when the rich get richer and the rest don't. If everyone's getting richer, who cares?

            •  Synchronous increase? (0+ / 0-)

              A rising tide lifts all boats, by the same amount? Is that what you are saying? Merely my choice of phrasing should point you to what is wrong with the idea.

              Income inequality points to the gap. The gap is not being addressed if the rich are being lifted by the same amount that the minimum wage is lifted - the gap would be remaining the same.

              MLK Jr 7 days before being killed: "Maybe we just have to admit that the day of violence is here, and maybe we have to just give up and let violence take its course. The nation won't listen to our voice - maybe it'll heed the voice of violence."

              by JayFromPA on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 12:28:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Concentrated wealth is concentrated power (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... and concentrated power is inherently anti-democratic. "Wealth" is nothing more than a relative measure vs others.

  •  I sometimes wonder if the main point (6+ / 0-)

    of posts like this is to create apathy during a crucial election.  Do you EVER read a transcript, listen to a speech, follow FB or Twitter?  The message is crystal clear, it hasn't changed, and it doesn't please Wall Street.  You should be ashamed of posting this kind of cluelessness.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:06:26 AM PDT

    •  Oh, the Dems do a great job creating apathy all on (5+ / 0-)

      their own.

      •  Apparently (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        I love OCD, thanatokephaloides

        they will regardless of what they say.

        Hell, they can even say what progressives what them to say and they're STILL a bunch of corporate sellouts.

        Apparently wanting to raise the minimum wage and close gender gap in pay is no longer progressive.

        I can't even keep up anymore.

        •  I can. There's a subset of Progressives (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DROzone, NedSparks

          that can't handle the reality of politics no matter how much they love the drama of it.  They're idealists with no taint of realism.  The act of governing is too messy and filled with compromise, it isn't Jimmy Stewart playing Mr. Smith with guaranteed scripted successes and the glory of soft-focus happy endings.  Governing is hard, messy, and filled with small steps that have to be nurtured and grown.  I googled Dem responses to SS, Medicare, and Civil Rights legislation during the "kill the bill" fights here.  I was both heartened and discouraged to see headlines that could have been taken directly from the rec list here.  The idealists are great for pushing for big programs.  They're terrible for the prolonged fight to improve them.  And they do a great job of splitting the energy of the party so we don't manage 16 or 24 years in the WH anymore.  

          I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

          by I love OCD on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 02:28:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To have a compromise you have to start from 2 (2+ / 0-)

            distinct positions. Thats not what we have.
            Not wrt the big issues of the economy and our surveillance state
            Raising the minimum wage from 'dire poverty level' to 'poverty level', being OK with gay marriage, and running on a banner of 'those other guyz are crazy' and ' You owe it to Hillary now' doesnt inspire people to make the effort to vote. Because they sense THEIR lives arent going to change for the better. With the Rs in charge theyll get even worse, but thats just not the way motivational psych works.

            •  There has to be a reality base for any (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jasan, NedSparks

              psychology to work.  If I'm convinced Democrats = Republicans there's no reason to do anything but whine.  The fact that Obama gets zero credit for the ACA, towing the economy out of the sewer, the amazing growth of civil rights for GLBTs, the CFPB, ending 2 wars and avoiding 4 more, minimum wage raises becoming more common, inequality and the dying middle class being recognized as problems rather than small inconveniences tells me all I need to know about the people who spout Third WayDLCcentrist all day long.  And yes, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are inspirational and powerful forces for good but right now I want someone with a 30+ year track record fighting for women.  Google it, you'll see why.  

              I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

              by I love OCD on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 05:49:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Raising the minimum wage (0+ / 0-)

              doesn't inspire people to make the effort to vote?

              That's the first time I've ever heard that one here.

  •  "They're great guys." The very day after he'd (3+ / 0-)

    said something about holding the banksters accountable, President Obama walked it back, to 'avoid any misunderstanding'.

     The oligarchs sent him a message, obviously.

    I don't blame him for the oligarchy. It's just sad that he chose not to them on immediately on taking office, when he had the country behind him. He threw away the leverage.

    And now comes the genius of the oligarchs: they've arrayed the End Days fascists against us as the Tea Party, and we will support their corporatocracy to avoid it.

    Me included, because I think there's a real chance that they would launch a nuclear strike to bring their Armageddon.

    Seems we're on track for Chris Hedges' scenario: collapse and repression. A lesson to the world in exactly what not to do will be our last contribution.

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