In 1910 President Theodore Roosevelt inspired at the time by Herbert Croly's book "The Promise of American Life", gave a speech preaching the verses virtues of big government.
Using a term so often over-used in today's media, redistribution of the wealth, and the corner stone of Roosevelt's attempt at social justice intervention, which Croly described in detail in his book. The idea of social justice is the movement of a country in a direction of all elements of a citizen's life being made just, by concepts of human rights, and equality. Manufactured for all the participants of a society through progressive taxation, income and property redistribution. (Britannica)
Social justice is one of the founding principles of other forms of socialism, communism, and cooperative economic organizations as well. These radical ideas would lead Roosevelt to being labeled a progressive. The progressive party was based around new nationalism, which is the belief in a strong government to regulate industry and protect the middle and working classes.
To understand Croly's influence then and now we must first examine his beliefs and intentions. Herbert Croly was a leader of the progressive movement as an editor, and political philosopher and a co-founder of the magazine The New Republic. Croly and others wanted to cure the relatively weak national institutions with a strong government. He aggressively promoted a strong army and navy, attacking pacifists who thought democracy at home and peach abroad was served by keeping America weak. (Conservapedia)
Croly wanted to use Alexander Hamilton's means to achieve Jeffersonian ends. To achieve this mixture Croly tossed aside Hamilton's wiles for institutional checks and Jefferson's wiles for limited government. Croly rejected these ideas because he saw them as too closely related to the principles of individual rights. Croly wanted to go above individual rights in order to create a national political community, one that would be forged by a strong but democratic national government.
Without going into too much more dry detail the correlation between what Roosevelt and Croly were trying to do and in part did do is in what President Obama said in an interview he gave with the Chicago public radio station WBEZ on October 28th quoted by The Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily both ran articleson Tuesday, September 2001. (aier) Expressing his views and beliefs before he became president.
True democracies were "People's Democracies" and "People's Republic's" where the economy was controlled by the government - in the name of the people and for their benefit - and redistributive justice (social justice) assured that each received what the rightly deserved.
It is sufficient for the government to "tame" capitalism through a spider's web of controls, regulations, and commands; and to use the tax system to redistribute wealth from the rich and give to the poor, the deserving middle class, and to establish a network of social safety nets such as social security, national health care, public housing, and state subsidization of all education.
This is basically the idea that Barack Obama, from all his public statements, clearly believes in and wants to see expanded beyond the extent to which they are already practiced in America. Thus, he wants to use the tax system to "spread the wealth" and apply the regulatory powers of the government to more forcefully manage and direct the economic affairs of the citizenry - all for a particular interpretation of the "common good".
To offer the opinion of the American people in a Gallop poll: regular Americans were asked if given a choice about how government should approach the many economic difficulties facing us today. Americans responded 84 percent to 13 percent with the majority preferring the government focus on improving economic conditions and the lack of jobs in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans. (Propeller, 2009)