The White House has all but abandoned a message of income inequality it had focused on last year. It turns out Americans are not moved by the topic and prefer a message based on opportunity.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that President Obama had to be pulled away from the message by aides who realized it was not connecting with voters in the run up to 2014.
Last year, Obama personally felt the pull of these arguments. White
House political research showed that income inequality was a wonky term
that did not always resonate with voters, but he insisted on speaking about it anyway.
That focus culminated in a December speech
in a low-income neighborhood in Southeast Washington, where he
referenced inequality 26 times and discussed academic findings on the
gap between the wealthy and the poor.
“He wasn’t particularly
interested in knowing whether that was a good economic message,” said
one person familiar with the process, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity in order to discuss private conversations. “He wanted to sound
alarm and put voice behind that.”
But as 2014 loomed, White House strategists concluded that inequality was not registering with voters on its own.
We’ve been told repeatedly that Obama is a pragmatist who is focused on solutions. And yet, he was committed to putting his voice behind what amounts to an Occupy message of class warfare, i.e. telling people in Southeast Washington they were being harmed by “dangerous and growing inequality.”
Obama’s justification for this was the work of French economist Thomas Piketty, author of a bestseller no one really reads. Piketty’s proposed solution: a wealth tax.
Eventually Obama did concede to the Democratic polls, but his heart was clearly with the more blunt class warfare approach, You can guess where Obama saw the solution to this problem. He said in the speech in D.C., “Government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts, because
government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and