Obama Dumbs Down The American Dream

This time around, President Barack Obama’s message can sound decidedly down-to-earth.

Four years after winning the White House, Obama is dealing with a different economic and political reality as he seeks re-election. He’s focused less on a lofty vision for overcoming divisions and remaking Washington, and more on the most basic building blocks of middle-class economic security: a job, a house, a college education for the kids, health care, money for retirement.

What Obama describes as the American Dream can seem a spare, fundamental aspiration, tailored for a campaign that looks to be fought over who is best equipped to safeguard the interests of middle-class Americans.

The question is whether it will convince, even as Mitt Romney and the other GOP presidential hopefuls mount a counter-argument that the president has made the American Dream harder, not easier, to achieve. And Obama must overcome the grinding realities many voters confront daily, even with the economy showing signs of life: no jobs, mortgages they can’t pay, dwindling retirement funds and college savings.

The president is betting that if he shows voters he understands their yearning for economic stability and security, they’ll reward him over Republicans he’s casting as just watching out for the rich – even though he hasn’t succeeded in fully reviving the economy so far.

“If you’re willing to put in the work, the idea is that you should be able to raise a family and own a home; not go bankrupt because you got sick, because you’ve got some health insurance that helps you deal with those difficult times; that you can send your kids to college; that you can put some money away for retirement,” Obama said recently in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“That’s all most people want,” he said. “Folks don’t have unrealistic ambitions. They do believe that if they work hard they should be able to achieve that small measure of an American Dream.”

The goals can seem almost humdrum in comparison with some of the rhetoric from Obama’s 2008 White House campaign. But the message sounds made for the times, with the country emerging haltingly from recession, the income gap widening and unemployment stuck above 8 percent.

“He can’t run on change because he’s the incumbent, and he can’t paint too rosy a scenario because things aren’t that rosy,” said John Geer, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. “He’s got to come up with a theme that appeals to voters, especially middle-class voters, alleviates their fears and gives them reason to believe the future will be better.”

The message also creates an implicit contrast with the portrait Democrats are trying to create of front-runner Romney as preoccupied with the concerns of the rich. But Romney is answering Obama’s message head-on, seeking a careful balance between sounding optimistic about the nation’s future and accusing Obama of destroying the American Dream.

“I’ve met Hispanic entrepreneurs who thought they had achieved the American Dream and are now seeing it disappear,” Romney said after his recent victory in Florida’s GOP primary. “We want to restore America to the founding principles that made this country great.”

GOP candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich also have accused Obama of tarnishing American opportunity, as Republicans make clear that no matter their nominee, Obama’s claim to be the one to restore the American Dream is sure to be challenged.

The candidates’ focus on the American Dream is in itself a sign of the times, said Michael Ford, founding director of the Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University. The phrase was coined during the Great Depression and since then has tended to become a central theme during economic downturns, Ford said.

He said rhetoric about the American Dream has been featured during this election cycle more than in decades, which he attributed to the tough times the nation has been suffering.

“It’s pretty basic stuff (Obama) talks about and I think as it turns out that’s pretty much where the dream is right now,” Ford said. “We can say the dream might have been lowered a little bit in terms of its aspiration but the aspiration is still there, and it’s always there.”

Some polling suggests that, despite voters’ continued unhappiness with the economy and Obama’s handling of it, the president may be convincing Americans he’s on their side. A recent CBS/New York Times poll shows people view Obama as the candidate who best understands the needs and problems of “people like you,” and see his policies as more apt than those of the GOP candidates to favor the middle class or the poor.

Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said “the viability of the middle class is the central economic challenge of our time, so I think that this is very essential in terms of this election.”

Read more here.

American Dream

Liberals and progs are already preparing themselves for Obama’s speech today. Even they know deep down that our country cannot continue to sustain our levels of entitlement spending, they are already whining that they will not stand for any cuts to entitlements. Then we have MoveOn.org Executive Director Justin Ruben who says, “We hope that the President will stand up and use the power of the bully pulpit to make a strong and clear case that Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid need to be protected, and that he will not allow the American Dream to be held hostage again by Republicans in Congress.”

The American Dream? Am I correct in inferring that Justin Ruben equates government entitlements to the American Dream? Is this really what our Founding Fathers fought for .. why they dragged bloody feet across battlefields .. so that they could create a country where 50% of Americans don’t even contribute to the funding of our federal government and yet in 2009 almost half (46.2 percent) of Americans received at least one federal benefit: 46.5 million, Social Security; 42.6 million, Medicare; 42.4 million, Medicaid; 36.1 million, food stamps; 3.2 million, veterans’ benefits; 12.4 million, housing subsidies. Freedom, liberty and self-reliance – forgive me but I thought that those were the keys foundations of the American dream and those do not seem to go hand-in-hand with government dependency.

Starve the Beast?

What would happen if U.S. businesses stopped paying federal payroll taxes? What wou;d happen if we went along with the idea thrown about by Neal Boortz and allow people to understand how much money the federal government takes from them each paycheck? Would they get the idea of how great of an idea the fairtax is if they got 100% of their paycheck for a month or two? Would the federal government get the idea of how angry the American people are if they were starved from their monthly allowance from all American businesses?

Right now, we are looking at becoming Greece, or worse, Bangkok. What is the solution, civil disobedience? What are your thoughts, your ideas?

There is a facebook page: what if Businesses stopped paying federal payroll taxes?

What say you?