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. Michael Q

    America has the best leader available at this time. Accept that and vote out all the "NFW" GOPers and see how fast the USA can recover and go onto greater heights. The only money Obama has spent to date (including Heath Care) is to bail out the actions of the former administration – the Bush league (pun intended)!

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. WDinDallas

    This century's Hoover.

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Is obama really dividing the country between 1% and 99% with all of its implications? The rich pays the most taxes. They carry the economy and are responsible for most employment. They gave the most to charity. The problem is to much hidden welfare spending within all government programs. Unions by holding the socialist weapon of general strike at managements head have been able to extort unsustainable benefits from companies. Benefits which extends to the grave for workers whether they perform or not. The time of reckoning has come and the rich are easy scape goats. Cut spending; lower taxes and union busting are some solutions.

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Roger

    Interesting that Obama is not running on a platform of any of his "achievements" since he took office, but is running on a platform of creating class warfare and fear among the people. Then again, that is all he has to offer.

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. uhoh

    So what's his solution to the massive income inequality? Is he going to steal from the rich and give to the poor while billions are lost lining bureaucrats' pockets? More government hasn't fixed anything and look at where it's gotten us now.

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. NCWriter

    This is posturing. What we have today is nothing at all like the Great Depression and the reasons we are here have little to do with the reasons for the Great Depression. Beyond stupid government economic action.

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Jimbo

    Yeah, let's just give you crooks more money so you can spend it so wisely like you have in the past. Here's to Obama pointing fingers again just like he always does. The most divisive president in history. We aren't going to accomplish anything when the two parties hate eachother, just what Obummer wants.....more poor people = more government control and power.

    December 6, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. jt_flyer

    Finally someone get's it. Now what are we going to do about it?

    December 6, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Justin

    "Obama compares current economy to Great Depression"

    This was the headline.

    President Barack Obama said Tuesday that economic inequality in America is at "a level we haven't seen since the Great Depression"

    This was the message of the article.

    ***There are not anywhere near the same thing***

    December 6, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. jp

    we have less jobs because of the ATM
    we have less job because of the internet...Al Gore it's your fault

    Barry is running out of people to blame

    December 6, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. AmazedByIdiots

    I love how everyone always says that the only way businesses can cut costs is to cut payroll. The idea of reducing their oversized profits never even seems to cross some peoples' minds.

    December 6, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. exoffender

    Sounding a theme from the popular television program LOST, Obama said: "If we can't learn how to live together, we're going to die alone."

    December 6, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. RALPH

    I acknowledge that so much damage has been done to our economy by both parties in the last three decades....But this is not the time to blame anybody....Obama is not doing us a favor by attacking Republican party, because his speeches do not convince anybody.....This is time for action and he should be starting by: Cutting spending, cap and balancing the budget...eliminating those trade agreement with China, India, Colombia, etc....

    December 6, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. TJM07

    about the only thing he does is give speeches...he never follows through, never knows what to do once the speech is given. Not much of a president, but is a very good campaigner...can't lead, not a statesman, nor a diplomat. This election is not about two different philosophies, but rather about a failed vision and a failed president.

    December 6, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. JasonP

    We have to dismantle the Republican party, piece by piece.

    December 6, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. george of the jungle

    President is better than all the republican candidates rolled into one. Left with billionairs like trump calling the shots(and the repos all jump) we will be in a mess. Taxes should be fair for all. can the repos actually say that the rich are pulling their fair share? Most economist say to keep the tax breaks. I would think they know more than the likes of Perry,Bachmann Mitt and Newt. All these guys are rich and of course don't want a tax increase. Why should we pay for newts wife's jewlery or one of mitts houses. The repo party is the party of the rich and always has been .All the repos forget that most of them came from somewhere else originally. This is not an election but a side show/circus.

    December 6, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. doug

    obama does not care about the middle class he only cares about his wife&2girls those4never starve&they got plenty of money2flush down the toilet meanwhile as4me all i got is 2hundred $ n my savings account which only pays me a few cents every few months & i starve every day - when obama says he is looking out 4 the little guy what he is really saying is re-elect me so me&my clan can continue 2 stuff our faces & flush our & everyone's money ! oh & by the way this economic mess was not cuased by bush it was cuased by piglosi as soon as she got in2 congress n 2007 the same year the recession started-irestmycase

    December 6, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. whight_knight

    And I compare obama to marx and the other socialist leaders, but I would much prefer to be able to compare him to John,James and Abraham..if only dreams came true these days...

    December 6, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. bob hope's ghost

    The great depression? They just reported the highest black Friday sales ever, even the following weekend sales were high. No where is this even close the same. What an idiotic statement this teleprompter president made.

    December 6, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. John

    I like that the President recognizes there is a problem. Though he does this often and with no plan to remedy it. I'm sad that all we get is more talk and no action.

    December 6, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. RES

    The right-wing has been destroying the middle class for decades. No they are using the close minded t-baggers to do their dirty work!

    December 6, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. Aaron Poscovsky

    I am glad that we have President Obama to bring jobs. I love the fact he has giving me three jobs,to pay my bills. Before President I only needed one job to pay my bills.

    Thank President Obama for giving me jobs.

    December 6, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  23. SixDegrees

    Uh – dude: this is NOTHING like the Great Depression. How 'bout exercising some real leadership instead of tossing out prefabricated campaign sound bites?

    December 6, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Gary Packwood

    I'm guessing POTUS is getting us ready for the DOJ to drop multiple criminal charges on top of the banking industry during the early spring.

    Might even be RICO charges.

    Timing is everything!
    ::
    GP

    December 6, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. Erik Taylor

    More of the same. . . .Mr. President, with all due respect, YOU are the problem–your administration, your Senate, your stimulus, your rhetoric, your regulations, your 'obamacare', your wasted year passing obamacare, your threatened taxes, your lack (absence) from the debate. . . .You are an empty suit–go home, quit, leave–do your party a favor and disappear.

    December 6, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
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