More problematically, I wonder if it’s good politics. As I said, the base loves it. But beyond that, I suspect its appeal is limited. This may well be for bad reasons—that is, Americans have had it so pounded into them over the last 30 years that anything like this constitutes “class warfare” that they may just reflexively jump to that conclusion. That’s a shame, and it’s very much worth trying to alter that viewpoint in the long term. In the short term, though, Obama needs to get himself reelected, which probably means that he needs to win independent voters by something like the eight points he won them by last time—or at least by five or six. And “higher taxes for the rich” isn’t going to motivate many swing voters…

This is the question—and I mean, it is the question—Obama and the Democrats have to figure out by the summer. Is their core economic message fairness, or is it growth? Liberals tend to say fairness. But I think fairness really only resonates deeply with liberals. Those not already in the choir want to hear more about growth. How to do that?

Fortunately, there is an answer, and Obama himself sometimes supplies it in doses. In all of his economic speeches now, including Tuesday’s, he includes language arguing that we need to invest in the middle class not merely on fairness grounds, but because investing in the middle class is really the way to create growth. In this narrative, middle-class consumers with money in their pockets, not trickle-down 1 percenters, are the real “job creators.” From Tuesday’s speech: