Appearing at a union rally in Wisconsin to mark Labor Day, President Barack Obama took a moment to depart from his speech, offering an apparently candid reaction to the rhetoric of his most wealthy and powerful critics: the entrenched “special interests” that dominate Washington, D.C.
Remarking on efforts to bolster America’s middle class, Obama noted his agenda has often brushed up against that of the wealthy.
“Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time, and they’re not always happy with me,” the president said. “They talk about me like a dog. That’s not in my prepared remarks, but it’s true.”
“The line was a rare departure from a president who normally sticks close to the text of his speech and may forecast a more aggressive tone on the part of Obama as the midterms approach,” CNN noted.
In his prepared remarks, the president said economic difficulties facing American working families this Labor Day are “more serious than ever.”
“For generations, it was the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world. It’s got to be that way again,” he told the crowd assembled in Milwaukee, for the annual Laborfest event.
“It was folks like you, after all, who forged that middle class,” Obama continued. “It was working men and women who made the twentieth century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today – the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans, those cornerstones of middle class security that all bear the union label.”
Opinion polls ahead of the November mid-term elections have shown a deep US public anger at the sour economy and stubbornly high unemployment 20 months after Obama took office vowing to turn things around, and political forecasters warn Democrats will pay a stiff price.
With all 435 House seats and 37 of 100 Senate spots up for grabs, as well as state legislatures and key governorships, what’s at stake is nothing less than the future of Obama’s agenda as President of the United States.
Experts note that, historically, sitting US presidents have seen their party lose seats in legislative elections during their first term.
Still, many Democrats remain hopeful that voters have not forgotten their most negative memories of the prior administration, which many blame for the country’s currently poor economic condition. President Obama has taken to calling Republicans the “party of no,” while President Bill Clinton has stated that Democrats need longer than 21 months to repair economic damage done by the GOP.
“We need individuals who think and do what’s right for you,” Clinton told an audience in New York last week. “You’ve got to have people who think, not ideologues. Republicans are utterly impervious to evidence.”
On Wednesday, Obama is expected to unveil another plank of his revised economic revival strategy: a series of tax credits for small businesses, worth up to 100 billion dollars.
A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity said the president’s infrastructure reinvestment plan would frontload 50 billion dollars to jumpstart job creation, but it remained unclear whether Obama would be able to win approval in Congress before the mid-term elections.
The official added that Obama hoped to work with Congress to offset the infrastructure spending, to ensure it does not further inflate the budget deficit.
Video of the president’s full speech follows, courtesy of The Uptake.
This video was broadcast by MSNBC on Monday, Sept. 6, 2010, as snipped by Talking Points Memo.