I've had many critical things to say about President Obama's rhetoric over the last two years, in particular the way he often seems to go out of his way to avoid making an explicit case for progressive values. But his speech on the deficit was full of just the kind of value-based argument liberals have been yearning for. Consider this part, in the criticism of Paul Ryan's budget plan:
Worst of all, this is a vision that says even though America can't afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can't afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that's who needs to pay less taxes?
Or this part:
But let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.
One speech doesn't last in public memory for all that long, but it's something to think about next time Obama disappoints you (it probably won't be long), and you're tempted to say he "never" talks the way you want him to. I'd like it if he did it more often, of course. But occasionally is better than never.