Obama says economic 'inequality' hurts everyone
December 6th, 2011
02:25 PM ET
3 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. bigdoglv

    Do you people seriously think that the economy is busted by only the GOP? Are you kidding me. The fools from both sides have you hoodwinked into blaming others while loosing sight of the real problem which is spending. Look at the facts, both sides have to step up and admit their mistakes. That will never happen.

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

    Great. Now what are you going to do about it?

    December 6, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Marc

    Regardless of what we hear from the Republican's about taxes, the bottom line is that nobody has figured out how to pay for the Bush tax cuts. Since these tax cuts have been implimented, Republican's and Democratic administrations have added to the deficit and further the economy has not improved.

    December 6, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. DwayneL

    More class warfare from the great divider...not surprised one bit! This president has failed America at every turn and must be replaced.

    December 6, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Jerry

    ok, stop shipping all the manufacturing jobs to China and Mexico. Work with corporate Ceo's to being some of those jobs back

    December 6, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. KBR

    The Great Depression was far worse. 25-30% unemployment for one thing. And it took WWII to get us out of it. And it was at least made worse if not caused by the protectionist Smoot-Hawley tariffs.

    December 6, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. JJ

    "Phil in KC said:
    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."

    I don't see anything in the policies put forth by the Democratic party too–except for more national debt–and they hold the White House. Excessive taxes and irresponsible fiscal policy hurts the middle class.

    December 6, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. HurtsUsAll

    Look at the unethical Harvard Lawyer, elected as our President, vacationing in Hawaii, claiming, "lawyer crap legislation hurts us all." HE IS KIDDING? RIGHT? SOMEBODY? TELL ME HE'S JOKING. PLEASE. People – You've got to stop electing lawyers. They're the problem. They're liars. RES IPSA LOQUITOR

    December 6, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Guest

    Would like to hear our president discuss the permanent changes he can take credit for in regards to the Jobless Crisis and the tens of millions who are now politically invisible with permanently degraded todays and tomorrows.

    We know about Too Big To Fail
    Let's discuss Too Small To Matter.

    December 6, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. jp

    'we go up or down together'....reeks of Collectivism and Communism

    December 6, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. Dee

    "Those aren't Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They're American values, and we have to reclaim them."

    December 6, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Dean

    She sure can talk well ,but he is ineffective.

    December 6, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Dee

    and how about those GOP tards confirm the Consumer Bureau nominee! STOP HALTING PROGRESS!

    December 6, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Soldier

    Obama 2012. Period.

    December 6, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Strange NWO

    Don't blame New World Order for wiping out Millionaires and Middle Class. It is not their fault. They told everyone not to commit seven deadly sins and sloth in the bible.

    The best way to avoid economic crisis this is paying taxes and food taxes fairly. If people don't like taxes. Talk to Four horsemen - Grim Reaper. The tax collector.

    I pay taxes guess what? I have tons of food at home. Too many of them

    December 6, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. Honest Citizen

    He's telling the Democrats just how ignorant they really are, and they are eating it up.

    December 6, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. 5041360

    watching Obma right now- he's got his groove back and looks and sound great – mitt and or newt don't have a chance= not with this guy

    Obama 2012!

    December 6, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. LIZ

    Hammerer: And he says that he is not promoting class warfare! The problem is obama!
    -------------
    No, not even close. The supreme Court's decision to allow corporations the same rights as you and me was the last in a series of steps that takes away the middle class' ability to thrive in our country.
    This trouble we are in have been coming for years and years. Bush did us no favors when he hid the cost of insipid middle east wars, not including them in the budget. Obama had a HUGE mess to deal with when he came into office.
    We had a SURPLUS when Bush arrived, we had a HUGE deficit when he left. How can you POSSIBLY think this was Obama's fault?
    You are extremely short sighted, and in need of a history lesson (and glasses) if you think that Obama being president for the past 3 years created all this mess.
    Grow up, learn your history! You do not know what you are talking about.

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Sheila

    This president is a blatant, overt communist. We will only have the values he espouses when government finally gets out of the way, and not one minute before. It's well beyond time he and every other socialist, Marxist, Bolshevik looter out there learned that lesson.

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Kevin

    Your policies, Mr. President, have stalled economic growth, which is the engine that drives jobs. When you impose uncertain costs on businesses (health care costs, taxes, etc.) they will not hire, as their costs are unknown. Temporary tax breaks (i.e., the payroll tax issue) will not create jobs, as those costs will be re-applied to businesses at a later date. We've seen enough of your act, Mr. President ... 2012 can't get here soon enough.

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. RK

    I have to laugh at libs who accuse conservatives of shipping jobs overseas when Obama's own job czar Jeff Immelt of GE has been busy shutting down US plants and sending the GE jobs to China. Obama has accepted more money from Goldmann Sachs and other Wall Street firms than any previous president. This phony and his hypocritical supporters need to look in the mirror!

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. mike58

    He is just a class warfare warrior. Divide and conquer. I'm not middle class lower class upper class I'm an American.

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Mike

    Thank you Obama for bringing America to the doorstep of the Great Depression II. Spending too much is what got us in this mess and what does the Commander in Chief does???? Adds more to the national debt in 3 years that Bush did in 8 years.

    President Paul 2012
    Restore the Republic

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. K3Citizen

    The republicans have made it clear that Obama being a one term is their main goal. Shouldn't their goal be aimed at fixing the economy? We were far in debt well before Obama took office and it was a republican president in charge during that time.

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. JoeT

    I'm with TR, the current president, and the year 2000 version of John McCain on this one.

    December 6, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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