Billed by the White House as expressions of his "one clear economic philosophy" President Obama is delivering big speeches on the economy Wednesday in Galesburg, Illinois, and Warrensburg, Missouri. Obama will reiterate his long-standing message that "the American economy works best when it grows from the middle-out, not the top down" and will cover old and new territory, according to the White House -- and a presidential preview he gave to his Organizing for America group on Monday night. Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer, who popularized of the middle-out formulation the president has been using for the last couple of years, expand on what they see as the power of their way of framing economic thinking here. But as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asked, "How can the president make news, and remake the agenda, by delivering the same message he gave in 2005?"
Here are some economic topics the president could address that might make people wake up:
1. Detroit. Can the president talk about America's economy and the future of the nation without talking about the largest municipal bankruptcy ever? It hardly seems possible. The failure of any major American city is a blight on the spirit of the nation, and Detroit holds a special place in the American imagination because of its historic role in the auto industry, as well as the way it was held up as an example of a city saved by the successful auto bailout early in Obama's first term. Are there any creative national means of helping Detroit out with its problems? Is there nothing people elsewhere can do? What role is there for the federal government in helping to relieve the city of its crippling pension obligations? And what can we learn from the city's example about how government needs to adapt for the 21st-century economy?