"U.S. President Barack Obama is using his weekly address to promote a better bargain for the middle class."
If that were the lead of an Associated Press report, we might think it deserved a closer look, but it was the lead of a press release from the Voice of America, an arm of the State Department.
Let's look at Politico's lead:
"President Barack Obama sharpened his focus on the economy Wednesday, looking to breathe new life into his second-term agenda with a fresh pivot back to the issue a majority of Americans feel most acutely in their daily lives."
Ok. We can work with that.
President Obama is in a rut. He is staring down the barrel of a second term that finds him stuck at 46 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval according to the Gallup tracking poll. Barring anything unforeseen, that is likely to be how he goes limping through the next three-plus years.
Not only is there almost zero chance he will help win control of the House for the Democrats -- control he squandered in 2010 by insisting on the passage of Obamacare -- but more and more analysts are suggesting the GOP has a real shot a taking the Senate in next year's mid-term elections.
Foreign policy is a mess. Well, that's overstating it. If there were a cohesive foreign policy, it would be a mess.
Unemployment is static. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.8 million Americans are unemployed , and the unemployment rate is at 7.6 percent. According to the BLS, "Both measures have shown little change since February."
Obamacare is on the skids. Although House Republicans have voted to repeal it 731 times, it is still in effect except for the part Obama delayed for one year -- the imposition of Obamacare on employers.
CNN pointed out that while employers got a one-year reprieve on having to offer health insurance, "Workers at these companies still have to get coverage or pay a penalty. Many would be subject to penalties -- $95 per adult or 1% of family income, whichever is greater, next year."
Those workers are the middle class.
The Washington Post published an essay by Dylan Matthews about a year ago suggesting that the "middle class" can be plausibly defined as:
"Those households in the middle quintile of the income distribution, or between the 40th and 60th percentiles."
According to Matthews, that group makes just a shade under $50,000 per year, which doesn't sound like that much. But it works out to about $24 per hour, which sounds pretty good.
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