Like President Teddy Roosevelt more than 100 years ago, President Obama spent the afternoon in the small town of Osawatomie, Kansas, speaking about the choices our country faces at an important crossroads in history:
"This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and all those fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement. …
"I'm here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren't Democratic or Republican values; 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They're American values, and we have to reclaim them."
The President laid out his plan to do just that—to rebuild a strong American middle class—and it starts with working together as a nation to achieve our goals.
This nation needs to make education a national mission, the President told the supporters gathered at the Osawatomie high school, and it's a collaboration among parents, teachers, businesses, and government. President Obama also noted that we also need to make a "world-class commitment" to science, research, and the next generation of high-tech manufacturing.
Much of the responsibility falls among the business community. The President said, "Business leaders need to understand that their obligations don't just end with their shareholders." As the primary generator of American jobs, they play a critical role in lifting people into the middle class and keeping them there, and their practices need to reflect this responsibility.
Building a solid middle class also requires a tax code that is fair. Calling it "the height of unfairness" that a teacher or nurse making $50,000 pays a higher tax rate than someone making $50 million, the President said as a nation we must decide what our priorities are and make tough choices necessary to getting our fiscal house in order. And that means asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share:
"This isn't about class warfare. This is about the nation's welfare. It's about making choices that benefit not just the people who've done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefit the middle class, those fighting to get to the middle class, and the economy as a whole.
Read the full remarks here.