Huffington to Obama: Don't Kill the Middle Class

| Tue Sep. 7, 2010 10:33 AM EDT

Blogger/activist/author/commentator/entrepreneur/bold-name Arianna Huffington has a new book out, and David Corn, in a PoliticsDaily.com column cites it as yet another sign of progressive impatience with President Barack Obama. Noting that Democrats and progressives who foresee an electoral nightmare approaching are beginning to draw up explanations that blame Obama for muffing his administration's message on the economy, Corn writes:

Into this burgeoning storm rides Arianna Huffington, and, in her usual fashion, she has upped the ante by essentially saying that if Obama doesn't rev up the recovery efforts, the United States will soon disintegrate into a Third World nation. Her assault comes in the form of a book called Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream, which is being released today. Obviously, Huffington...finished writing her book months ago -- before progressive and Democratic impatience with Obama became as intense as it is these days. And though she doesn't slam Obama personally, he's certainly in the middle of her radar screen.

The big idea of Huffington's book rests on one main pillar: the decline of the middle class. She writes, "if we don't correct our course, contrary to our history and to what has always seemed to be our destiny, we could indeed become a Third World nation -- a place where there are only two classes: the rich . . . and everybody else. Think Mexico or Brazil." Citing all the stats—the Bush and Obama administrations devoted hundreds of billions of dollars to financial firms, while millions of Americans lost their jobs and hard-pressed states cut social services (precisely when they are needed the most)—she complains:

The human consequences of the financial collapse are largely missing from our national debate. I'm referring especially to the people who had steady jobs; people with college degrees; people who were paying their bills, saving for retirement, doing the right thing -- and who have, in many instances lost everything. The daily miseries being visited upon them are unfolding across the country.

So why is there no sense of urgency coming out of Washington?

As Corn notes, "That's a direct poke at the guy in the White House." And it reflects a growing sentiment in left-of-center circles: in his handling of the economic mess, Obama has fallen short in his diagnosis and prescription. The president has in recent days begun unveiling new economic initiatives—expanded business tax credits and an $50 billion infrastructure bank—but it may be too late for him to reshape the 2010 political terrain with such measures, or to reshape the attitudes of progressives who believe Obama has let them, and the country, down.