Dec. 6, 2011, at Osawatomie High School. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

It’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed our country’s political conversation. But if you want to know exactly how the Occupy movement has impacted the debate in Washington, read Barack Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, today. For much of 2011, Obama’s speeches were all about the deficit. Today the central theme of his speech was income inequality—and how this mounting problem weakens our economy and our democracy.

Obama’s pivot away from austerity orthodoxy and toward public investment began with his jobs speech in September, but he’s subsequently sharpened his language and focus in recent months in response to pressure from Occupy Wall Street. He’s now tackling issues of basic fairness and attacking the GOP’s brand of “your-on-your-own economics” in a much more direct way.

In Osawatomie, Obama Embraces New Populist Moment


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