Friday, September 7, 2012

Obama's speech: tax breaks vs. opportunity

Posted by on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Political convention speeches are meant to be emotional and rhetorical. They're meant to fire up the base, and President Barack Obama's Democratic National Convention speech last night was no exception.

Obama
  • PHOTO COURTESY STEVE JURVETSON
  • Barack Obama

That said, there was still a moment in Obama's speech where the rhetoric really surprised me, pleasantly so. It came when he cast $4 billion worth of government subsidies to oil companies as corporate welfare. He actually used the term "corporate welfare," and in a speech that weaved centrism with populism.

Soon after, he made a smart, though abrupt, transition from energy to education. Obama, in effect, implied that subsidies for a highly profitable industry would be better invested in education and worker training. Investments in education and training will, in turn, help people get jobs and boost the economy.

"You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have," he said. (The quote is taken from NPR's transcript.)

And for many people, education is "the gateway to a middle-class life," he said.

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