Obama poses with a youth group from Covenant House in Washington, Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Speaking at a brand new community center in one of DC's poorer neighborhoods Wednesday, Sen. Barack Obama outlined his vision to revamp America's inner cities.
"The streets here are close to our capital, but far from the people it represents," the Illinois Democrat said to the predominantly African American crowd. "These Americans cannot hire lobbyists to roam the halls of Congress on their behalf, and they cannot write $1,000 campaign checks to make their voices heard. They suffer most from a politics that has been tipped in favor of those with the most money, and influence, and power. How can a country like this allow it?"
Obama unveiled his five-part plan aimed at "changing the odds" for people living in cities. He promised to increase the minimum wage, create affordable housing and jobs, provide education and financial support for parents and create an institution modeled after the World Bank specifically for America's cities.
Obama also said he wanted to launch an "all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck anti-poverty effort" to 20 different cities around the country. The program, originally launched in Harlem, includes free daycare and medical services, affordable food, early education and counseling for expecting parents. He said he knows it will be expensive, but that he "will find the money because we can't afford not to."
"The moral question about poverty in America – How can a country like this allow it? – has an easy answer: we can’t," Obama said. "The political question that follows –what do we do about it? – has always been more difficult. But now that we’re finally seeing the beginnings of an answer, this country has an obligation to keep trying."
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–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich