Huffpost Politics
Michael McAuliff Headshot

Jon Kyl Berates Obama For Focus On Middle Class

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama should stop talking about the middle class because it turns people against rich Americans, who should be embraced as the Michael Jordans of the U.S. economy, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Monday.

Declaring that the use of the phrase "middle class" is "misguided and wrong and even dangerous," Kyl argued in a Senate floor speech that Obama is "spreading economic resentment [that] weakens American values" and ignoring "the uniquely meritocratic basis of our society."

“We have a president who talks incessantly about class, particularly the middle class,” Kyl said.

"I just think the whole discussion of class is wrong. It's not what we do here in America," said Kyl, the Senate minority whip. He added, "I don't think there's anything called 'middle class values' that are different from the values of other people in this country. Tell me what's different about the values of someone who the president identifies as middle class?"

Democrats have long argued that the nation's tax system favors the wealthy, and with the economic downturn, inequality has reached levels not seen since the roaring '20s.

Over the winter, the Occupy Wall Street movement focused popular attention on the divide between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country, with organizers arguing that it was time to stop rigging the system to favor rich, corporate special interests while the rest suffer. Democrats have embraced that message on the campaign trail, with some success.

But Kyl said he sees the rich very differently -- more like sports heroes along the line of Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan.

"When Michael Jordan came, after he established how great he would be, he was given an enormous, almost unheard of salary. Did the other players say, 'That's not fair?' No, actually all the other players got big salary increases, too," Kyl said. "The whole franchise did well, the people selling popcorn, the people parking the cars ... made more money than they ever would have had Michael Jordan never came to the team."

Kyl's remarks come in the context of the Senate's debate this week on whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for not just people earning under $250,000, but for the wealthiest Americans as well.

Many Democrats note that the growing income disparity escalated with the Bush tax cuts, and that job creation under Bush's presidency was among the weakest in modern history.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

Also on The Huffington Post

Below-The-Belt Political Attacks
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

 
  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results