In it, Mr. Dionne writes that there were at least four things to like about the president's speech. The second, third, and fourth of these were:
- "he was willing to talk plainly about raising taxes."
- "he was right to focus on the need to cut security spending."
- "he was eloquent in defending Medicare and Medicaid, and he proposed saving money by building on last year’s health-reform law."
. . .First, without mentioning Rep. Paul Ryan by name, he called out Ryan’s truly reactionary budget proposal for what it is: an effort to slash government programs, in large part to preserve and expand tax cuts for the wealthy. “That’s not right,” he said, “and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m president.”
What has left me long baffled, however, is listening to people who are not in the least rich defend them. Does this, I wonder, imply some fundamental shift in the good old American Dream? Which I'd always construed as a dream that if one works hard, tries one's best and looks out for others, one will be rewarded with the opportunity for a decent, fulfilling life.
To put it simply, has being an American come to mean we're entitled to as much as we can get our hands on without being bothered by pesky taxes?
To me, a country is morally defined by its societal dreams. Has accruing surplus personal wealth really become the great American Dream?
I've got the question. You got an answer?