We'll be live blogging the speech as it happens, but the White House has already released excerpts. In the first, President Obama puts the current economic situation in context:
Whoever he may be, the next president will inherit an economy that is recovering, but not yet recovered, from the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. Too many Americans will still be looking for a job that pays enough to cover their bills or their mortgage. Too many of our citizens will still lack the sort of financial security that started slipping away years before the recession hit. And a debt that has grown over the last decade, primarily as a result of two wars, two massive tax cuts, and an unprecedented financial crisis, will have to be paid down.Republicans will of course whine about the fact that President Obama dares to talk about the root causes of our economic challenges, but that's only because they are to blame for so many of the economic problems we face. They like to pretend that history didn't begin until January 21, 2009, but to ignore the role the Bush-Republican policies which created the mess President Obama inherited wouldn't just be political malpractice, it would be policy malpractice.
President Obama will also outline a bottom-up vision for economic growth:
In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled-down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. That's how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That's why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. That's why studies have shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.This isn't just a question of fairness—this is an expression of conviction that economic growth depends on a strong middle-class. Mitt Romney and Republicans will whine and moan about socialism, claiming that President Obama is talking about redistributing wealth, but that's baloney. This is about simple economics: trickle-down doesn't work. If you don't build an economy that works for everybody, eventually it won't work for anybody, and the key to prosperity is in building a strong middle-class.
President Obama will contrast that vision with the Republican approach, which is all about rewarding those at the very top while ignoring the foundations of the economy.
This Congressional Republican budget, however, is something different altogether. It's a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it's really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It's nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It's antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who's willing to work for it – a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last – education and training; research and development – it's a prescription for decline.There's a lot of great stuff in that paragraph, but best thing about it is that it takes the fight to Mitt Romney and Republicans. It positions President Obama as a champion of economic growth flowing "outward from the heart of the middle class" while Mitt Romney and Republicans want to double-down on the failed trickle-down policies of the Bush years. President Obama is on the side of what has worked in America; the G.O.P. is fighting for more of what hasn't. President Obama has history and American tradition on his side; Republicans have nothing more than ideological fantasies. And as President Obama's speech today will show, the best way to expose those fantasies as fraud is to deliver a solid dose of reality.