President Obama is putting Republicans on notice. The president told Republicans today that he wanted to see their ideas for helping the middle-class. In other words, it is time for Republicans to put up, or shut up.
The president said:
At a moment when our economy is growing, our businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s, and wages are starting to rise again, we have to make some choices about the kind of country we want to be.
Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we build an economy where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead?
That was the focus of my State of the Union Address – middle-class economics. The idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
This week, I will send a budget to Congress that’s built on those values.
We’ll help working families’ paychecks go farther by treating things like paid leave and child care like the economic priorities that they are. We’ll offer Americans of every age the chance to upgrade their skills so they can earn higher wages, with plans like making two years of community college free for every responsible student. And we’ll keep building the world’s most attractive economy for high-wage jobs, with new investments in research, infrastructure, manufacturing, and expanded access to faster internet and new markets.
We can afford to make these investments. Since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by about two-thirds – the fastest sustained deficit reduction since just after the end of World War II. We just have to be smarter about how we pay for our priorities, and that’s what my budget does. It proposes getting rid of special interest loopholes in our tax code, and using those savings to cut taxes for middle-class families and reward businesses that invest in America. It refuses to play politics with our homeland security, and funds our national security priorities at home and abroad. And it undoes the arbitrary, across-the-board budget cuts known as “the sequester” for our domestic priorities, and matches those investments dollar-for-dollar in resources our troops need to get the job done.
Now, I know that there are Republicans in Congress who disagree with my approach. And like I said in my State of the Union Address, if they have ideas that will help middle-class families feel some economic security, I’m all in to work with them. But I will keep doing everything I can to help more working families make ends meet and get ahead. Not just because we want everyone to share in America’s success – but because we want everyone to contribute to America’s success.
That’s the way the middle class thrived in the last century – and that’s how it will thrive again.
The president short remarks contained a challenge to Republicans. Obama wants to know if Republicans have any ideas to help the middle-class. The president will be unveiling his ideas when he releases his budget proposal on Monday. Obama wants to know what the Republicans are going to bring to the table besides their usual chorus of no. Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell have already shot down the president’s proposed middle-class tax cut.
The term middle-class has become the new “jobs” buzzword for Republicans. It wasn’t long ago that Republicans thought that they could boost their approval ratings by adding the word jobs into everything they said and did. A plan to cut taxes for the wealthy became a bill to aid job creators. The Keystone XL pipeline is a jobs bill. They are trying the same tactic with the term middle-class.
Obama isn’t going to sit back and let Republicans fill the air with empty talk. The president is challenging Republicans to back up their words with actions. In the days and weeks ahead, President Obama will likely sharpen his language and call out congressional Republicans. His weekly address was a warning shot that Republicans better be ready to put up or shut up when it comes to rebuilding the middle-class.