Obama’s income inequality push comes as the tide appears to be rising for the left on economic and social issues, something evident in everything from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s election to the legal selling of marijuana in Colorado.
There are a number of signs of Republicans trying to strengthen their flank on issues relating to poorer people in particular.
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) has put forth a plan to help alleviate poverty by consolidating funding for many federal programs and then devolving power for how those funds are spent to the states.
Other prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have been trying to get the party onto the front foot when it comes to explaining how its policies might help people at all strata of society.
But more needs to be done, some conservatives argue.
“Republicans trumpet ‘free enterprise’, ‘personal responsibility’ like a college fight-song but they never explain how it is going to better the lives of people outside the conservative echo chamber,” strategist Ford O’Connell says. “It’s a major problem.”
Strategists like O’Connell worry that this tendency is putting their party behind the eight ball in presidential elections, making it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the electoral college.