Obama says economic 'inequality' hurts everyone
December 6th, 2011
02:25 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama says economic 'inequality' hurts everyone

(CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday that economic inequality in America is at "a level we haven't seen since the Great Depression" and "hurts us all."

"When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy, from top to bottom," Obama said in a speech pushing for Congress to approve provisions of his jobs package.

"Inequality also distorts our democracy," he continued, sounding a theme expressed by Teddy Roosevelt in a speech more than a century earlier. "It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. And it leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them - that our elected representatives aren't looking out for the interests of most Americans."

Obama said that congressional Republicans "want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years."

"Their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules," Obama said in a speech pushing for passage of provisions of his jobs package. "Well, I'm here to say they are wrong."

Sounding a theme from a speech more than a century earlier by Teddy Roosevelt, Obama said: "I'm here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own."

"I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules," he said. "Those aren't Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They're American values, and we have to reclaim them."


Filed under: Economy • President Obama
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. Phil in KC

    He has a point. We are at our greatest when there is a strong middle class. Right now, that middle class is shrinking and I don't see anything in the policies put forth by the Republican party that will change that. In fact, they will exacerbate the problem.

    December 6, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Hangar13

    Have you noticed that, no matter what the problem is, the solution is always to raise taxes? Of all the things wrong with our economy, I think "The government isn't confiscating enough of our money" is simply not one of the problems, nor has it ever been.

    December 6, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    I will say one thing about Pres. Obama. He will go down in history as one of the more eloquent communicators that the office of POTUS has ever seen. No doubt about that there. Sho' 'nuff.

    December 6, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. Hammerer

    And he says that he is not promoting class warfare!
    The problem is obama!

    December 6, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Big George in Big D

    Quit the big spending you blow-hard! If he would dry up the spending, there would be no need to raise anyone's taxes!

    December 6, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. diridi

    Because GOP idiots mess. 1. Trickle down Economy 2. Iraq War. Shipped all the jobs to India, China, etc,. GREED,GREED...Reform Tax Code...period.

    December 6, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Yanni

    Yes Mr. President

    December 6, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Ken2112

    I still believe that Barack Obama is better for our country than any Republican candidate I've seen so far. At least he is willing to compromise, unlike the "Party of NFW".

    December 6, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Mikey

    Let's hear all the comments about "class warfare". The President wants our economy and our society at large work for Americans who work hard to take advantage of opportunities. It is a reasonable equailty of opportunity he is promoting. I don't know how anyone can complain about that, but I'm sure some will.

    When someone is shooting at you and you point it out, that is not making war, it's identifying the state of war that already exists. As Warren Buffet has said, class warfare has been going on for decades and his side (the uber-rich) is winning. It is NOT class warfare to point that out.

    December 6, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    "When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy, from top to bottom," Obama said in a speech pushing for Congress to approve provisions of his jobs package.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    ...and when businesses need to cut back, where do they do that? Pay less taxes? No. Pay less rent? No. Cut payroll? Yes. Eliminate jobs. That's the problem isn't it? So raise taxes on businesses and who loses? The emloyees who need that job and the country that needs people working.

    December 6, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. david

    What a bunch of crap. No way in hell can you compair this to a time when people were struggling to feed themselves. When crops failed because of a drought. Now people have mulitple electronics, multiple cars, $400+ phones. There has been no recession just a failure to budget. Now would be the time to get rid of credit and return to a time when people save up for a product and then buy it.

    December 6, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Tim

    Did he accept any responsibility for the current state of affairs or blame someone else.

    December 6, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Jcal

    Nowi this is the kind of divisive innuendo that calls for Obama to step aside and let Hillary run for president. He keeps talking in concepts – and is not really talking about issues or policy. We need a leader who can unite and act!

    December 6, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Tim

    The government must do their fare share and spend our tax dollars more efficiently instead of asking for more$$. Why should we give them more money when there is so much waste. Raising taxes and asking Americans to pay more is like raising an allowance on a child after bringing home a bad report card.

    December 6, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Kevininvancouver

    I hate to break it to the right honorable President but your democracy was sold to the highest bidder long before this last economic upheaval.

    December 6, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Well no kidding Dick Tracy. And what gave you your first clue?

    December 6, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. ardee123

    America needs a competent leader with leadership skill to get the country out of this "dark age " of high unemployment,high poverty, hich bankruptcy, high homeforeclosure,sick economy , and incompetence .

    December 6, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. jp

    more Collectivism, and Social Justice 'solutions' from Barry...what a tool

    December 6, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. headlesshors

    What a bunch of crap. Period.

    December 6, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. bob

    The Idiot speaks

    December 6, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. howcouldIhavevotedforObama?

    Yep-and he is Herbert Hoover....Could someone please remind me how I voted for this guy....The worse leader of the free world in my lifetime....

    December 6, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. bob

    Why doesn't he just shut up

    December 6, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. Steve-Illinois

    Everyone should pay their fair share except those who pay nothing and live off the fruits of others labors!
    And if you worked hard, and became successfull, you are the problem not the solution!
    I think about a company like Solyndra which received $560 million in tax payer guaranteed funds, not because of their products potential, but because the CEO was a campaign fund bundler for Obama in 08! That is NOT the American Way Mr. President!

    December 6, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Grand Oil Party

    We need a public works program immediately. And we shouldn't worry about wether every state has equal access to it, the money should go where needed the most and workers can move there for the time being. Also, we need to raise taxes and cut spending to pay down the debt – it is the only way it will get done. As the debt goes down, the dollar goes up and makes everyone more wealthy. That's what Repubs don't want people to figure out – that if the rich are taxed to pay off the debt it does make everyone else better off.

    December 6, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. flarnkingsgargle

    There are less jobs because we have robots. Duh.

    December 6, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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