Barack Obama, desperate for a way to shift a disgruntled American public’s attention away from the disastrous rollout and impending cost of ObamaCare, is going back to the oldest play in the democratic playbook: class warfare. Before his sun-drenched vacation in Hawaii, Obama started the ball rolling, calling for extending federal unemployment benefits that weren’t part of the budget deal that Senate Democrats and House Republicans had made that would fund the government for two years. He urged Congress to imitate what 14 states had done: to raise their minimum wage.
Obama said on December 4, “We know that there are airport workers, and fast-food workers, and nurse assistants, and retail salespeople who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty. And that’s why it’s well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office … the combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.”
Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, told Fox News that if Obama plays the class warfare card, it could blow up in his face. Rove asserted, “I think the administration is playing with dynamite … In the short run they get some advantage from talking about the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. But the more this becomes a question of taking from those who have to those that don’t have, the more they engage the American people in a very negative way for the administration.”
But New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is also trading on the class warfare meme, saying, “When I said we would take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities, I meant it. And we will do it. I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed as One City … Please remember, we do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories.”
Obama is expected to launch his populist, class-warfare appeal during the Jan. 28 State of the Union Address. But Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist, didn’t see how obfuscating the Obamacare issue by resorting to class warfare would work. He said, “I think there is a very compelling case that Democrats could make on those particular issues, how food stamps affect the pocket, how it affects children. But if they don’t do that and spend more time running from ObamaCare I don’t see how Democrats really have [the] upper hand.”
In his December 4 speech, Obama added, “I realize we are not going to resolve all of our political debates over the best ways to reduce inequality and increase upward mobility this year, or next year, or in the next five years. But it is important that we have a serious debate about these issues.” But Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the debate was focused on the wrong issue, saying in a video marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” “After fifty years, isn’t it time to declare big government’s war on poverty a failure? Instead of continuing to borrow and spend trillions of dollars on government programs that don’t work, what our nation needs is a real agenda that helps people acquire the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty and to pursue the American dream.”