President Obama claimed Abraham Lincoln — the first Republican president — as his “outstanding Republican endorsee” while defending his call for tax increases on the wealthy and praising government programs in Iowa today.
“Abraham Lincoln is in the house!” Obama said at Kirkwood Community College, apropos of a man in the crowd dressed as the former president. “My homeboy from Illinois,” he joked, “and an outstanding Republican endorsee.”
Obama has appropriated Lincoln in recent months as a way to defend his policies of government spending on domestic programs. “We have to make investments in basic research,” the president declared in March while campaigning in Illinois. ”Lincoln understood that, you understand it. Nowhere is that truer, by the way, than in the area of energy.”
He also said at the time that Lincoln “understood that we are a people that take great pride in our self-reliance and our independence but that we are also one nation and one people, and that we rise or fall together” — a formulation that Obama often uses when defending safety net programs and the taxes that pay for them.
Obama developed that argument through the rest of his speech, though he did not mention Lincoln again. He told voters not “to give me another tax break or to give Warren Buffett another tax break, or to give Mitt Romney another tax break”
– meaning, don’t extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — before reciting the federal spending that he regards as a mainstay of middle class America, including Obamacare.
“I’m running because I believe that nobody in America should go broke just because they get sick,” Obama said. “Our health care law was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do. And you know what, I will work with anybody to improve the health care law where we can. But this law is here to stay. And it will help the vast majority of Americans feel greater security.”