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Obama's 'Middle Out' Argument Against Trickle-Down Economics

The president rebrands his party’s ideas about economic growth
President Obama speaks at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on July 24
President Obama speaks at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on July 24Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Stymied on his economic agenda by Republicans in Congress, President Obama went to his home state of Illinois on July 24 to deliver his first major economic speech since the State of the Union. The point wasn’t to convince GOP leaders that his ideas are better, but to make them fear the consequences at the polls if they continue to slash social spending and block his job-creation initiatives. The president mentioned the middle class 28 times and promised to fight for “an economy that grows from the middle out, not the top down.”

Obama’s lengthy sales pitch, kicking off a series of speeches on the economy, challenged the perception that Democrats are bleeding hearts who don’t care about growth. “This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong, it’s bad economics,” Obama said, arguing that policies that help the middle class, such as bolstering manufacturing, rebuilding infrastructure, and making education affordable, simply work better than trickle-down ones like tax cuts.