June 1, 2016

In a barn-burner of a speech, President Obama previewed his campaign for the eventual Democratic nominee today in Elkhart, Indiana.

The theme of the speech was the economy, and how it's not as terrible as the naysayers (cough- HairDrumpf - cough) say it is. And in usual Obama rhetorical style, he mixed mythbusting with sharp criticism of Republicans, Fox News, hate radio, and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But for progressives, the newsmaking item came late in the speech, when he discussed five policy ideas for helping the economy even more and making Americans more secure.

Channeling Bernie Sanders, Obama said, "We can't afford to weaken Social Security, we should be strengthening Social Security. And not only do we need to strengthen its long term health, it's time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so today's retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they have earned."

How far we've come from the days of the Grand Bargain, where chained CPI was on the table.

Progressive organizations have been quick to applaud his turnaround.

Democracy for America's Jim Dean said in a statement that "if anyone has ever wondered what impact the grassroots political revolution behind Bernie Sanders is having on the future of the Democratic Party, the sharp, populist progressive turn that President Obama made today on Social Security expansion should answer those questions."

PCCC's Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor also released a statement, saying, "Progressives led, the people spoke out, and the politicians are now embracing change we can believe in: Expanding Social Security benefits -- never cutting them. This will be a defining issue in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and congressional candidates across the nation are for expanding benefits to keep up with the rising costs faced by our grandparents and veterans. Donald Trump and Republicans oppose increased benefits, and many support cuts."

The entire speech is worth watching. I'll post a PDF of the transcript as soon as it's available.

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