Monday, August 4, 2014

In his most recent Weekly Address, the President notices the middle class:

AFter five and half years, the President finally gets his priorities straight:

My top priority as President is doing everything I can to create more jobs and more opportunities for hardworking families to get ahead.
As is his pattern,  he notes the progress of the the economic recovery.

"On Friday, we learned that our economy created over 200,000 new jobs in July. That’s on top of about 300,000 new jobs in June. We’re now in a six-month streak with at least 200,000 new jobs each month. That hasn’t happened since 1997. All told, our businesses have created 9.9 million jobs over the past 53 months. That’s the longest streak of private-sector job creation in our history."

The President cites several random, unrelated policies that he has advocated on previous occasions:

"That’s what’s at stake right now. Making sure our economy works for every working American. Making sure that people who work hard can get ahead. That’s why I’ve been pushing for common-sense ideas like rebuilding our infrastructure in a way that supports millions of good jobs and helps our businesses compete. Raising the minimum wage. Making it easier for working folks to pay off their student loans. That’s why I’ve been pushing for fair pay and paid leave."

Yes, we need a well-functioning infrastructure. In fact, the earliest American politicians that historians describe as "conservative" originated the idea of an infrastructure to tie together the states funded by the national government--things like roads, canals, and later railroads.

The other proposals create some difficulties. Raising the minimum wage, regulating wages based upon gender, and expanding paid leave may help the middle class American who apply for such benefits. They will not help the middle class businessmen and women who have to pay out these benefits.

And the President seems to believe that recent college graduates make minimum wage. He links minimum wage increase and college debt sequentially in this passage. So it may be unfair to suggest that the President believes that recent college graduates earn the minimum wage once out of school  But in his Weekly Address of June 28, he explicitly told us that raising the minimum wage will help people pay off college loans. I sure hope that recent college grads earn more than minimum wage.

The President ties these diverse policy objectives together:

"These policies have two things in common. All of them would help working families feel more stable and secure. And all of them have been blocked or ignored by Republicans in Congress."

He urges Americans to action:

Ask them why they haven’t passed bills to raise the minimum wage or help with student loans or enact fair pay for women.

It makes for a nice rhetorical flourish. Some Americans may want to ask Congress about it. But some middle class Americans just aren't buying it. 

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