“Radical Vision”

So from excerpts released by the White House, it does not appear that the president is going to be mealy-mouthed in his remarks about Paul Ryan’s budget later today when he speaks to a group of newspaper editors:

In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled-down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. That’s why studies have shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.

This Congressional Republican budget, however, is something different altogether. It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It’s antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it — a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last — education and training; research and development — it’s a prescription for decline.

Now some progressives would read these two graphs and complain that the president should instead just find ways to say “Medicare, Medicare, Medicare” in every sentence, and leave it at that. Others, myself included, would prefer that Ryan’s assault on the neediest members of our society receive more attention. Perhaps he will do one or both of these things in his full remarks.

But by clearly labeling Ryan’s budget as a radical vision reflecting a very untraditional way of looking at the contributions of working people to economic growth, Obama does tie his critique of the Ryan budget to the kind of general election message he will need to win. And the “Trojan Horse” reference, if used often enough, is well designed to undermine the assertion–which far too many “neutral” observers in the news media have just accepted–that a Mitt Romney-led GOP is focused intently on repairing the economy, not pursuing an ideological agenda aimed at rolling back the New Deal and Great Society and imposing a cultural counter-revolution on the country.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.