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Obama Tries To Channel Teddy Roosevelt In Kansas Economic Speech

Memo Pad Politics

Obama Tries To Channel Teddy Roosevelt In Kansas Economic Speech


Calling this a “make or break moment for the middle class,” Barack Obama on Tuesday used the same Kansas town in which Teddy Roosevelt gave his “new Nationalism” speech in 1910 to try to refocus his economic message and provide a cohesive narrative for a presidency many on the left have found wanting.

Lamenting that the “basic bargain” (T.R. called it his “Square Deal”) that historically has made the United States an attractive place to raise a family has “eroded,” Obama made the case for beefed-up financial regulations and used the bully pulpit to urge Congress to approve his nominee for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the trademark of his Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.

Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor is the political correspondent and staff reporter at The National Memo. Previously, he was a staff reporter at The East Hampton Star, where he wrote about politics and the arts. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 2010 with a B.A. in political science. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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  1. Libertarian December 6, 2011

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read at this forum. The part I agree with the most is “But the most substantial ways to improve the lot of workers right now: breaking up banks to prevent future economic crises, prosecuting foreclosure fraud”. I left out the “raising taxes on the rich to fund jobs and infrastructure programs”. I would rather see that sentence changed to “change the tax code to remove loopholes that the rich and corporations are leveraging, albeit legally”.

  2. patty December 7, 2011

    This speech’s connection to Teddy Roosevelt was apt for many reasons: Karl Rove, early in W’s reign, said that his
    hope was to reinstitute the Gilded Age. Well, Rove got his wish. We even have a GOP candidate longing to leave child
    labor laws behind. TR, though a republican, broke up the banks and companies which had driven the US into
    a Dickensian hell hole. He created populist and humane laws and agencies. We need that kind of leadership now.
    That’s what the President was talking about.

  3. CarmanK1 December 7, 2011

    The shame of it is that “we the people” seem to be fighting these same ole battles over and over again. We are in the 21st century and yet the battles we are fighting took place in the 20th century. The cures were real and successful and yet Ronald Reagan and his minions turned this nation backwards to a FAILED STATE to elevate the rich and the powerful once again in conflict with REAL DEMOCRACY. Obama’s speech was a winner. I just hope he follows through with the promised leadership which includes being done with caving to the radical right which wants to reshape this country into the radicalized vision of the TPARTY NATION: based on social darwinism, destroying the environment, shredding the social safety net and securing the future of a ONE PARTY RULE over the country. The radical right fascists who long to dominate instead of share this nation’s resources, need to be put on notice and stopped before they do irreparable harm. Democracies have died in the past, because the rich and powerful got impatient with all that PEOPLE PARTICIPATION STUFF.

  4. Hankk December 7, 2011

    In 1933 FDR and his mixed congress, were smart enough to know after the Greed driven Great Depression, that although Capitalism was the greatest tool known to man that it could not be left unchecked any longer. They realized that the citizens had to be protected, so they could raise their families and live with in their means. So they put regulations on the items that had to remain stable for this to happen, they were/are (electricity,heating fuel, gasoline, telephone, and Banking/wallstreet), after that was done the USA enjoyed 48 years of strong growth with the first ever middle class citizens leading the way. In 1980 along came the first tier of the wealthy and corporation long range plan to eliminate the middle class, Ron began by attacking and breaking a union, then giving the wealthy and corporations huge tax cuts (welfare) so they could start closing factories and
    moving jobs to other countries (what kind of an idiot exports their own jobs), then
    he broke AT&T up, and went one step farther. He gave one of his friends the right to sell telephone lines at a reduced price (MCI),this was not capitalism, the telephone companies had the give MCI a very big reduced price, but had to maintain and repair everything for MCI, in other words Rons friend (MCI) didn’t own anything he just colected the money. Enron, was another friend that had the same set-up with electricty, and gas and there were many more just like them. GHW Bush, gave more tax breaks and de-regulated some of the banking (SNL’s)and greed took over and they went belly up and we bailed them out. Remember one of them was Neil Bush the presidents son. GHW gave us the 1000 points of light speeches, talking about the New World Order and making the USA the biggest and best service nation in the world. W. Clinton signed the NAFTA bill into law and there wnt more of our jobs, however he , the last president to ballance the budget and he left a surplus in our citizen paid for Social Security and also our budget. It didn’t take GW Bush long to spend that, and he de-regulated everything that Ron and his dad hadn’t already done. He started 2 wars and didn’t fund either of them leaving over a trillion dollars out there,and everyone knows what came next. Folks it took the GOP 31 years but they did what they set out to do, but it is about to blow up in their faces.

  5. rustacus21 December 8, 2011

    …the “make or break” moment came on the 1st order of “missed” business in 2009, when the administration avoided the opportunity to cancel the Bush tax-cuts. The best skill any worker can possess in today’s market place is multitasking – the office of Chief Executive is no different. However, due to the ego-maniacle nature of the executive “staff”, the erroneous advise given by fortunately “former” staff members was so awful, the administration has been playing catchup ever since. Instead of channeling presidents from the past, I, for one say, President Obama is not too far behind the curve that he can’t begin setting his own precedents for future presidents to follow. Firstly, on his own, putting the ax to the Bush tax cuts! The revenue freed up will do amazing things, unimaginable & even, administration-saving things. Next, place Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Dept of Education & other essential entitlements off limits. Thirdly, put some of the culprits of the economic crash of ’08 on trial & in jail! If there’s no incentive (law, regulation or enforcement) to abstain from criminal behaviors, lawlessness is inevitable. Next, re-instate Depression-era regulations to do just that! The canceled tax cuts will provide jobs back to recently fired government workers w/the expertise to do the job of providing for the nations welfare, that didn’t happen during the last administration & is the underlying factor of the “Occupy” initiative. All told, re-election for this president will be all but guaranteed!!! Bet on it!!! Under the scenario above, that is…

  6. Hankk December 8, 2011

    Rustacus21, I agree the President missed the boat and didn’t do the first things first. Our country needs a health care plan for all citizens, however it could have waited until later in his 1ST term. Had he done what you mentioned he wouldn’t have lost the house. If The President stays tough on these jobs bills and Occupy stays peaceful and growing we can make Obama’s 2ND term a must,it can be done. hank,MI

  7. dcole December 9, 2011

    It is so refreshing to read thoughtful commentary that does not resort to name-calling and personal attacks. Thanks.

  8. rustacus21 December 11, 2011

    …comments here, brought something to my attn; I read recently, that Clinton’s deregulation activities were responsible 4 the 1st phase (2001-’02) of the economic disaster of the last administration & to the overall economic catasrophe of ’08. This, of course, is a ridiculous proposition, since none of the criminals of Arthur Andersen, MCI, Enron, Tyco, etc., had the audacity to do such, while the Clinton admin did the marvelous job of oversite it was very well known for. What I realized, however, was that the last admin emulated the accounting methods of none other than Enron, w/its off-the-books budget activities, wars, corruption, graft, theft (of institutional funds), etc. Lets be clear: Liberal/Progressive Democratic administration do government better! There are simply no 2 ways about it. Considering Prez Carter warning on petroleum in 1979 & where we stand on this issue 2day, means that “THAT” opportunity missed means citizens – NOT our representatives (successes, failures or anywhere in between) are responsible & by virtue of collective engagement, we are charged w/coming to the necessary consensus’ which will correct any misapplication of directions encompassed inside of “OUR” Constitution. I advise all here to read it often & recommend family, friends, strangers & foes alike, do so as well…


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