“We welcome the president’s focus on the economy,” Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said Sunday. “But given that so many are still struggling after nearly five years it’s clear his agenda of higher taxes and higher spending isn’t the answer.”
Obama plans to begin with a speech Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., a campus he visited as a new U.S. senator in June 2005 to deliver its commencement address.
The White House posted video excerpts from that speech on YouTube on Sunday evening, and administration officials said the president is likely to echo the warnings he issued eight years ago about how economic changes were threatening the middle class.
Some of those shifts, he said at the time, were inevitable results of globalization and technological changes that made it easier to move jobs in factories and service industries overseas.
But Obama also used the speech to sharply criticize the tax-cutting policies of the George W. Bush administration, saying that the Republicans’ “best idea is to give everyone one big refund on their government — divvy it up by individual portions, in the form of tax breaks, hand it out, and encourage everyone to use their share to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own education, and so on.”
“In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society,” Obama said. “But in our past there has been another term for it — ‘social Darwinism’ — every man or woman for him or herself.”
Obama used the same term in the middle of his reelection campaign last year, calling the Republican budget proposal “social Darwinism” for the cuts it proposed to Medicare and other government programs to address the yawning budget deficit.
Obama’s plan to revisit Knox College to inaugurate his latest economic push suggests there may be a populist edge to his approach, echoing the tone and substance of his speech in December 2011 in Osawatomie, Kan., which previewed his middle-class message during the campaign.
After his Knox College speech, the president will travel to Warrensburg, Mo., to deliver largely the same remarks at the University of Central Missouri. On Thursday, he heads to Jacksonville, Fla., to speak at the port there.