This week I covered the State of the Union address for my (Un)Conventional blog at America magazine. On Friday, I noted that President Obama didn't talk so much about creating jobs as about providing some financial security when jobs aren't enough. An excerpt below:
For much of the 20th century, the Democratic Party made “full employment” one of its primary policy goals (the term was in party platforms from 1944 through 1988). But that was when a large share of the workforce belonged to labor unions, which fought against lay-offs and lobbied for such benefits as health insurance and sick days. Now the idea that you can achieve financial security by simply landing a job is as quaint as the notion of starting a college fund with a paper route.
The Republican Party may try to dismiss Obama’s “middle-class economics” as nothing more than prophylactics against financial risk. Instead of subsidizing child care for working parents, why not encourage more Americans to make money by starting their own businesses or investing in the stock market? Opportunity, not financial security, has long been the GOP brand.
But even Republicans are feeling pressure to save the middle class.
On Tuesday, I previewed the speech by responding to a column by Ron Fournier on how Obama has "squandered" the opportunity “to rid the capital of pettiness and gridlock." An excerpt below: