On April 14, 2009, as Barack Obama’s standing in the polls was beginning to slip, and as Tea Party demonstrators were amassing in Washington for tax day protests, the president gave a lengthy address at Georgetown University explaining the “five pillars” of his economic policies. The speech was intended to promote a memorable slogan for Obama’s program that would evoke comparisons with Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
Obama’s contribution was to be the New Foundation. “We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity–a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest,” he declared. Obama would repeat the phrase seven times that day and on many more occasions over the next months. At Obama’s private White House dinner with presidential historians that June, the historians were no more impressed than the public with the New Foundation as a slogan. “I don’t think it’s going to work,” Robert Dallek warned. Doris Kearns Goodwin said it sounded “like a woman’s girdle.”
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