President Barack Obama’s speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois was billed as an address on the economy, the first of a series of economic orations. Yet instead of presenting a policy agenda, Obama launched a partisan attack reminiscent of his most blistering addresses of the 2012 presidential campaign, dismissing concerns about “phony scandals” and attacking Republicans for promoting “gridlock” in Washington.
As predicted, Obama claimed credit for increases in private sector job growth. Yet he also focused on “the one percent,” attacking the growth of economic inequality in American society, calling for a renewed emphasis on shared prosperity. He hearkened back to his 2005 address in Galesburg, which praised Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but Wednesday’s speech was more reminiscent of his leftist rhetoric in Osawatomie in 2011.
As he did on the campaign trail, Obama highlighted the “middle class,” telling an audience of cheering students that he would resist those forces that had “conspired” to keep the middle class from advancing. Obama also slammed Republicans for imposing spending cuts and supporting the budget sequester–even as he took credit for what he called the fastest reductions in the deficit in sixty years, which only the sequester made possible.