President Barack Obama needs many young people to volunteer and vote in November, and during a Wednesday speech at the University of Michigan, he used every rhetorical device he’s got to get them onboard his campaign train.
He pushed them with offers of cheap student loans and wage increases for women, plus scares about mean and selfish Republicans.
He pushed “opportunity for all,” he lamented over sympathetic victims, and he warned of mean and cranky Republicans.
He pitched them with a Bruce Springsteen song, a few well-turned catchphrases, higher minimum wages, and yes, more alarms about mean and old Republicans.
Obama’s partisan, but easy-going speech seemed to get his supportive young audience on board, even though five years of his policies have boosted their parents’ unemployment rates, spiked their collective student-loan debt to more than $1 trillion, and also dropped an extra debt load of $35,000 onto each students’ credit card.
Much of the campaign speech focused on the Democrats’ top campaign-trail promise — raising the minimum wage. That proposal is slated for a vote in the Senate next week, so Obama hit the issue hard, and even reminded the listeners of his lousy Obama economy.
“Nobody who works full-time should be raising their family in poverty. … That’s what’s happening right now all across the country [where] you can work full time on the minimum wage and still be in poverty,” he admitted.
The Senate will vote on the proposed wage increase to $10.10 per hour next week, Obama said. “It’s easy to remember — 10.10, 10.10 … [and] it would lift wages for nearly 28 million Americans, including a million right here in Michigan,” he said.
“Republicans in Congress don’t want to vote to raise it at all. In fact, some want to scrap the minimum wage… no, no, don’t boo, organize,” he said, prompting applause. “That’s what you need to do… they may not hear the boos [but] they can see votes.”
“You’ve got some Republicans saying ‘You shouldn’t raise the minimum wage … because it just well, helps young people,” he continued. “I don’t know what’s wrong with helping young people. Folks who say that, next thing you know, they’ll say ‘Get off my lawn.'”
Obama also took aim at Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed 2015 budget, which is scheduled for a House vote.
The GOP plan, “if they cut everything evenly,” he claimed, would kick 170,000 kids out of early education, fire 21,000 special-education teachers, and cut Pell Grants for students.
“If they tried sell this, this sandwich, they’d have to call it the ‘stink-burger’ or the ‘mean-wich,'” Obama said.
“Here’s the truth — they’re not necessarily cold-hearted,” Obama said, in a show of generosity before strongly criticizing the GOP.
“They just sincerely believe that if we give more tax breaks to a fortunate few, that if we invest less in the middle-class, if we reduce or eliminate the safety net for for the poor and the sick, and cut food stamps and cut Medicaid, and let banks and polluters and credit-card companies and insurers do only what’s best for their bottom line, without the responsibility for the rest of us, then somehow the economy will boom, jobs and prosperity will [come to] everybody,” he said.
Through out the speech, Obama threw out a series of pithy slogans for the texting generation, which were intended to simultaneously slam the GOP and flatter Democrats.
“We believe in opportunity for everybody,” Obama said.
“You can give America the shaft, or you can give it a raise.”
“America is a place for everybody,” he claimed. And the Springsteen song was pitch-perfect for the eager passengers’ on Obama’s oratorical adventure.
“I said [on] this train … Dreams will not be thwarted
This train … Faith will be rewarded.”
After the speech, Obama left to attend two fundraisers with some of the one percenters who have been sitting in his train’s first-class club-car since 2009.
Maybe even Brice Springsteen will be at the fundraiser, where he can sing the rest of the song:
“Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder’s rollin’ down this track
Well, you don’t know where you’re goin’ now.”