Obama invokes Roosevelt’s ‘Square Deal’ in preview of 2012 campaign

Here and Now

In Osawatomie, Kan., Barack Obama stepped into the shoes of Theodore Roosevelt and laid out what will likely be his campaign strategy for the 2012 election.

In his speech, Obama said he wanted an extension of the payroll tax cut that is set to expire on Dec. 31, that it and other new programs should be paid for by higher taxes on the rich. He also outlined proposals for increased funding for education and increased regulation of U.S. banks.

“This isn’t just another political debate,” Obama said, The Kansas City Star reported. “This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

Roosevelt delivered his famous New Nationalism speech from the same town 101 years ago.

Obama’s speech made it clear that he will seek re-election in 2012 as the champion of the middle class — a middle class he said is shrinking. According to Obama, children born in the mid 20th century had a 50 percent chance of making it to the middle class. Now they have just a 33 percent shot.

Obama also linked the Occupy Wall Street movement with the Tea Party movement and said it was evidence of a growing desire by Americans to lessen economic equality, The Washington Post reported. 

According to the Post, Obama issued “a searing indictment of Republican economic theory, framing the economic debate as one of right and wrong, fairness and unfairness.”

Republicans, however, playing off the Square Deal theme Roosevelt unveiled in his speech in Osawatomie, said Obama’s been giving Americans a raw deal and criticized his economic plan as one that would lead to continued economic stagnation and push off the day of economic recovery.

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