President Obama took his party on a victory lap Friday during his address to the Democratic National Committee. He touted job growth, shrinking deficits, and the auto industry's recovery as evidence that the policies his party has been fighting for over the past six years have made a difference.
It has, he acknowledged, been an uphill climb, as the Democratic Party policies met with a wall of opposition from GOP leaders in Congress.
"Now that their grand predictions of doom and gloom and Armageddon haven't come true, the sky hasn't fallen, chicken little is quiet," Obama said.
The president argued that his party's middle-class focus has worked so well that Republicans now are looking to emulate it, but he challenged Republicans to do more than talk the talk. "Walk the walk," Obama demanded.
"I think the shift in rhetoric they are engaging in is good if it actually leads them to take different actions. If it doesn't, then it is just spin," Obama said. "Trying to bambooze folks."
He challenged Republicans to work with him to pass paid-sick-leave legislation and raise the minimum wage, if they are truly worried about income inequality.
"Don't stand in the way," Obama said. "Give America a raise. Let's go."
With Republicans controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the president knows that many of the policies he has put forth may not come to fruition in the the final two years of his presidency, but Obama challenged the GOP anyway. He said that if Republicans really want to be the party of the middle class, they need to stop trying to roll back health care, stop pushing tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and stop blocking his actions to give young immigrants a chance to stay in the U.S., get educated, and contribute to the economy.
"Tell us how you are helping middle-class families, because we have an agenda, we know works. Don't just talk about it," Obama said.
The president called out Republicans by name including potential 2016 presidential contender Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who who has said that Republicans need to do a better job reaching out to minority voters in areas like the south side of Chicago.
"I guarantee you that Senator Paul would be welcome there [in Chicago]," Obama said. "I want parties to compete everywhere. I think that is a good thing."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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