President Barack Obama delivered what may be the first Democratic stump speech for the 2016 election Feb. 20, complete with boasts about recent job gains and taunts of the GOP for aiding “millionaires and billionaires.”
The likely Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, wasn’t at the event, but Obama was eager to write her election platform and eager to urge a post-American future for the Democratic Party.
“We’ve got to be the party that believes nobody should be treated like a second-class [pause] person…no matter where you come from,” Obama declared in his speech at the 2015 meeting of the Democratic Governors Association.
That deliberate use of the word “person,” in place of “American” or “citizen,” was a dog-whistle to the Democrats’ effort to win support from immigrant populations, both legal and illegal.
Obama accompanied his signal of support to all “people” with a demand that Republicans accept Obama’s push to legalize all 12 million illegal immigrants.
Republicans, he said, should “stop trying to deport millions of striving young kids who just want to earn their shot at the American dream like the rest of us,” to loud applause from Democrats eager to boost their ballots with millions of votes from government-dependent immigrants.
“Help us fix a broken immigration system,” Obama said, although he didn’t mention the Texas court decision that has temporarily blocked his November amnesty.
Obama’s speech echoed his successful 2012 criticism of the GOP’s presidential candidate, Gov. Mitt Romney, and he has the political and fundraising clout to inject his pitch into the 2016 campaign.
The eventual Republican candidate may be vulnerable to a 2012 repeat, in part, because major donors are pushing the rival candidates to support large-scale use of foreign workers in place of middle-class, blue-collar and white-collar Americans.
Much of Obama’s speech, however, consisted of Obama touting what he sees as his domestic success and downplaying his failures.
He didn’t mention the nations debt that has grown by $7 trillion on his watch, or that millions of native-born Americans have lost jobs and left the labor market as roughly 11 million lower-wage immigrants taken their places, or that nearly extra wealth created since 2009 have gone to the very wealthy. Nor did he mention the Democrats’ massive electoral losses in 2010, 2012 and 2014 that have gives the GOP control over the Senate or House.
Obama indirectly acknowledged the almost-frozen wages of Americans since 2000 with a claim of recent progress. “Perhaps the most hopeful sign,” said Obama, of middle-class progress is a recent small increase in wages.
The audience cheered as Obama taunted the GOP’s recent rhetorical support for policies aimed at lower-income, middle-class Americans.
“The new plan is to rebrand themselves as the party of the middle class — I’m not making this up,” he said.
“I’m encouraged that they are finally speaking about the middle class, about wages, but there is this old saying that ‘You can’t just talk the talk… you gotta walk the walk,’” he said.
Obama outlined a series of government programs that he claims would effectively boost wages in a low-wage, global, labor-surplus economy.
“If you are serious, if you are really troubled with increasing [economic] inequality, then you can’t put forward proposals that would give more tax breaks to the folks doing the best, millionaires and billionaires,” he stated.