Democrats call for a populist message.
The president’s State of the Union address will outline his agenda for the year. Democrats also hope that Obama will champion a populist agenda that will help middle-class voters.
President Obama said that he wants to help the middle-class and recently spoke about closing the income equality gap. In his State of the Union address, he’s expected to use his executive power to increase the minimum wage of workers on new government contracts to $10.10 an hour. Obama is also expected to advocate for an increase in the national minimum wage.
Democrats have long wanted more populist messages spread to voters, but in a more relatable way. While Obama has been talking more about income inequality, Democrats want him to make the issue more about voters’ pocketbooks and less about attacking the rich. To avoid the term “class welfare”, Obama’s agenda could be less about blaming income inequality on the rich and more about putting more money in middle-class workers’ pockets.
As New York senator Charles Schumer said, “The American people are more concerned about how they are doing as opposed to how someone else is doing. So simply saying ‘We’re going to raise taxes on the wealthy’ is not going to be the kind of answer that satisfies the middle class.”
Democratic members of Congress want Obama to focus on bread and butter issues like extending unemployment insurance, making college more affordable, and extending broadband internet to rural families. Obama is also sure to tout the successes of his healthcare plan expanding healthcare to more low-income Americans. “Issues of economic mobility and the essential fairness of the economy have grown important as we’ve got into the fifth year of the recovery and wages are pretty much stagnant,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.
Despite the problems of the last year implementing Obamacare and reviving the economy, Democrats believe they have a message that can compete with the Republican agenda. They believe that presenting a populist agenda will help win over middle-class voters to vote Democratic. If Democrats don’t gain control of the Senate, many legislative ideas may perish, from raising the minimum wage to passing immigration reform.
Many Democrats are hopeful that President Obama’s State of the Union speech will be only the beginning of focusing on the needs of the middle class. They also hope that they can create an agenda that will help them win votes in the 2014 election.