Donald Lambro

"Instead, the speech -- coming at the end of a difficult and politically damaging year -- was designed to help define a populist argument that he and other Democrats can carry... into next year's midterm elections," he wrote.

Blaming higher income people for their success is not an agenda for robust growth and job opportunities to climb the economic ladder. It's demagoguery at its worst, aimed solely at dividing Americans on the basis of their incomes and class, and Obama is its most shameful practitioner.

Some Democratic leaders didn't like it, either. "On a political level, we find it just very divisive and seeking out a host of things to blame for people's predicaments and those folks are holding you down," Democrat Jim Kessler, a co-founder of the centrist-leaning Third Way advocacy group, told the Post.

While Obama was attacking upper income people and bemoaning the worsening state of poor people under his policies, a classic case of capitalism and upward mobility was playing itself out elsewhere in Washington.

Wal-Mart, for the first time, was opening up two new stores in the District. Democrats on the city council sought a minimum wage of $11.50, even if it drove Wal-Mart out of town. The mayor vetoed the council's bill, and 23,000 people applied for 800 jobs.

Was Obama at the ribbon cutting ceremony, praising a successful company for bringing jobs into a city where the poverty rate is nearly 23 percent and unemployment is 9 percent? In your dreams.

Obama presumably would have supported raising the minimum wage in the District because that was one of the proposals he was peddling in his speech for the rest of the country. And he's supported higher increases in the past.

Most economists say raising the minimum wage is a job killer and an additional obstacle to economic growth. Employers will either cut their payroll, reduce benefits, hire only part-time workers or raise their prices.

"Over 85 percent of [economic] studies in peer reviewed journals say job loss occurs after an increase in minimum wages," says Michael Saltsman, research director for the conservative Employment Policies Institute here in D.C. "Economists are not divided on this issue."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says "increases in the minimum wage fall disproportionately on small businesses who are the least able to absorb such a dramatic increase in their labor costs."

The rest of Obama's agenda to make "sure our economy works for every working American" isn't any better. It calls for universal preschool and spending another $50 billion in infrastructure construction projects.

But if $1 trillion in job stimulus spending in his first term didn't produce a strong, sustained economic recovery, it is unlikely another $50 billion is going to make any impact in a $17 trillion economy.

Clearly, the administration has run out of ideas how to jump start a lackluster economy, as Obama's warmed over proposals make abundantly clear.

Brendan Buck, chief spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said it best this week in an e-mail to reporters:

"It should be no surprise why [Obama's] approach has left more Americans struggling to get ahead. Rather than tackling income inequality by lifting people up, he's been fixated on taxing some down."

House Democrats this week proposed raising the federal gas tax by 15 cents a gallon to 33.4 cents when millions of Americans are hard- pressed to pay $3-plus a gallon now.

Welcome to the Age of Obama where it's only going to get worse.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.