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. Al

    I loved his speech, students need an education so that when they graduate they are not in debt, but at the same time in the same speech he wants banks to make loan process easier for students. Which is it Obama? He wants everyone to do their fair share, does that include the career rats on welfare for over 6 years? Or does it only apply to those that are working? It's time to let people decide what they want to do with their lives, it's not up to the government it's up the individual, PERIOD.

    December 6, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. RichM

    This is the first time I've heard Obama acknowledge the OWS movement. A bit late I'd say...It must have taken a long series of cabinet discussions on what to say about it. "Does this help us or hurt us?" lol.

    December 6, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    the last depression did not have a disgrace like obama running the country

    December 6, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    Republicans LOVE depressions/recessions. This is what they live for. Then once they kill our economy they yell and scream it's not their fault. To quote Rev. Sharpton (they have the blueberry pie all over their lying faces). When will people wake up and stop voting these liars and obstructionists into office? When? They will destroy you everytime.

    December 6, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Dale

    What is needed president Obama needs to get a back bone, start knocking heads together Congress and Wall Street.

    December 6, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mikey you are right on the money with your post. Thank you.

    December 6, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. ardee123

    It is not Obama's fault,he is only the president ! The following are at fault, G W Bush,the republican party or wall street.

    December 6, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. voiceofreason

    What an appropriate pose by the Prez Obumbo.

    Blessing his followers. Follow me into the light my children, Follow me into the light my children, Don't worry if you hear the locomotive horn....

    December 6, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    obama should have been removed from office two years ago

    December 6, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. CrookCounty, IL

    Obama: "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." I'm sure he doesn't mean HIS donors like George Kaiser (Solyndra loan), Ron Perelman (Siga's Tech sole-source contract for useless smallpox vaccine), and we can't forget Jon Corzine, yet another Obama bundler who is now under investigation but a few months ago was on Obama's shortlist to be Treasury Secretary. Then there's Newt who is even worse though. And to think, these two may be our choice for President.

    December 6, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. HalfDayKindergarten

    With all due respect, is someone trying to say everything is okay because this has happened before (like the Great Depression)? Sounds like a good smoke screen... What is happening now is Something Else... and Someone does not like it...

    December 6, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Squigman

    Republicans cut taxes for the top tier wage earners, then spend like there's no tomorrow on military might. The spending for the military was followed by waging war against terrorism in the wrong country, and then invading a neighboring country Afganistan. Then the democrats take power and stay the course by upping military power in foreign lands, then instead of focusing on jobs, they start on health care. They should have focused on jobs and jobs alone, but this allowed the republicans access to lead congress. Since this happened, nothing's happened except fighting in the capital to see whos got he bigger member. Now nothing gets accomplished. Good luck Mr. and Mrs. America. You've never been more alone than right now.

    December 6, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. CanadaOne

    WOW!!! he made republicans look REAL STUPID! Can they really be that stupid – their record with Bush did show it.
    If I was an Amercian I would vote ALL REPUBLICANS OUT OFFICE and leave not one in Congress or the Senate

    " DOWN WITH REPUBLICANS UP WITH THE USA"

    love

    Canada

    December 6, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. William

    Besides shoveling our tax dollars to green companies owned by his biggest 08 supporters, what has he done to foster any job growth? Besides blaming Congress, tea party grannies, returning veterans, "lazy" Citizens, and use our insane tax code to set one group against the other I haven't seen one thing that man has done to help "average" Americans. Just one of his $30,000 a head fundraisers could pay off how many struggling homeowners? Seems he likes his Wall Street fat cats better than anyone. At least Clinton and Newt brought results.

    December 6, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. evilsofa

    Thats the Socialist in our president that is showing, there is supposed to be a divide between the masses, upper, middle and lower class! Government is too big for its britches and needs to reduce its size then maybe they will not require so much of our tax dollars every year!

    December 6, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Greg

    He isn't wrong but incomplete. Liberal Hollywood charges a marketing tax to every consumer. Even if you don't watch TV you have to pay celebrity salary. Many are his supporters. Everyone has to pay the salary for people you wish didn't exist.

    December 6, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. sidneyhop

    blah blah blah!! More BS, lies and distraction methods while we continue to be robbed by the very people who own our govt!

    We need ACTUAL change, and we need it NOW!!!

    Ron Paul 2012

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. Proud Texan

    The amount of ignorance on this thread, and in this country, is astounding. How can anyone blame Obama for our economic woes?? Our current problems have to do with GOP wars that were not funded nor needed, lack of regulation on Wall Street, and partison politics that have the republicons bowing to the ultra-wealthy.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. BJ

    Did the commentator say that Obama bailed out Wall Street? Bush signed that bill.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    One of the greatest actors of our time, does anyone still buy the garbage that comes out of this guys mouth.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Kevin

    One in 6 child in US is facing hunger, some thing must be done.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. It is sad

    The middle class is vanishing, and is blending in with the poor. Soon we will be like India, being either very rich or very poor. Ginrich will have our children accepting janitorial jobs for a couple dollars a day, taking even more jobs away from the unemployed. The good news is that pretty soon we won't have to worry about illegals working here, our kids will have their jobs... and the adults will be looking to cross the border into Mexico, only to find the drug cartel can really protect the border.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. RES

    There are less jobs beacuse the repugs gave tax breaks to companies to off-shore them. Now the jobs are gone and corp america keept the tax subsidies. Now the repugs want to keep the tax breaks going. How many jobs has exxon created with their record projfite drilling our nations oil? NONE! Until we get the neo-cons and t-baggers out of office, the nation is going nowhere.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Slag

    excuses, excuses, excuses.

    December 6, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. idb

    It is a good comparison, since the great depression was also prolonged by the flawed actions of Democrats and the measures of a poor president. Unfortunately Obama cannot even stand in the shadow of Roosevelt.

    December 6, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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