Obama says economic 'inequality' hurts everyone
December 6th, 2011
02:25 PM ET
6 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. Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

    I pick up a lot of subtle racism in these comments: 'sho 'nuff', 'dark age'. Admit it people, at least to yourselves, you don't like having a black president. No matter what he says or does, it won't be good enough for you.

    December 6, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. art braden

    Take charge Mr.President. Someone has to rise up, and right now God has apointed you to rise up and take charge and be the mediator.The rest of the politicians need to look beyound self inrerest and do whats right. Mr. President im praying for you, that God would give you wisdom on how to deal with a divided house. The bible says blesed is the peace maker. Not easy but you can do it.

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

    The real "Job Creators" in an economy is money in the hands of the average consumer that he or she is willing to spend. The wealthy only provide their capital to create jobs when there is a demand for what they are selling. Since the wealthy have laid off people with outsourcing jobs and have forced wages down, billions have been taken out of the hands of the consumer. Laying of government workers only adds to the problem. When Business won't create jobs, government must until the public has money once again. With a belief in trickle down economics for the last 30 years, America has returned to the days of Rule by Royalty and economic slavery for its people.

    December 6, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Hank

    Maybe he can rush right out and pass a massive healthcare overhaul! That's how I would have handled it when the economy was this way in 2008!

    December 6, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. elwd

    how could i have ever even thought of voting for obama. He blames everyone but himself. Shame on u sir!

    December 6, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. I can't beleive this

    So by everyone "paying there fair share" he means tax the rich while 47% of the country does not pay on cent in taxes? How is that everyone paying their fair share. He should stop pandering to the OWS crowd and tell them to occupy a job and contribute to society instead of whinning about not getting government handouts.

    December 6, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Richard Gonzalez

    So what do we do about it, Mr. President? Let's get rid of the idiotic congress and appoint Obama King of America. lol.

    December 6, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. BJ Bell

    Mr. Obama is 100% right, the "party of the 1%" (the Republicans), are "selling out the middle class" - Grover Norquist has the Republicans in his rich lobbyists pocket and they could care less about the 99%.

    Join the "FlushTheRepublicansNow" - movement (pun intended) and vote for a Democrat.

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

    If these rich and powerful people and corporations had any morals at all they would help instead of trying to be more greedy. Some of these politicians built themselves up from nothing. I applaud that but they forgot where they came from and the people that they left behind, who now have no way of achieving that same American Dream, either for themselves or their children.

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

    Didn't y'all vote for this fool to fix these problems 4 years ago?

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

    Real leaders do not pit one group of people against another, demonizing sectors of the population. Yes Obama inherited this economy, but three years later, he has to own it. If he was a CEO hired to turn around a company, he would have been fired three years into his job.
    He bemoans the lack of jobs while seeking to punish the people who create them...

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

    Solution to the great depression: Algae fuel mass production

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

    Obama is fighting for the majority of the public, the middle and lower classes. How can someone actually be FOR inequality? How can someone actually be against Obama?

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

    He says "when everyone does their fair share" – I've not found that to be of either party. The Republicans want to keep the rich – rich (was does have "some" benefit), and really it's the Democrats that want the middle class to continue to pay for the poor and go broke. Who is doing their fair share here? Only those who make between $50K and $100K ... since almost 50% of the country making $50K and under pay not taxes!!!

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

    Talk with someone who went through the Great Depression. What we have now is not even half as bad as it was

    December 6, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Just my opinion

    The President is a moron. Period!

    December 6, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Johnny 5

    Obama has compared the economy to the Great Depression on the record and proud that he helped it get that way off the record. I voted for Obama and i'm terribly sorry for doing so. We need to oust him in 2012 and start cleaning up this mess together as a people.

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

    Join the "Flush The Republicans Now" movement - (pun intended) and vote for the 99%, the Democrats.

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

    Really now....you might quit blaming those that hire outside of the beltway and put away the credit cards and free daily bread tokens your handing out.

    December 6, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. a disgrace

    shame on the american people for not owning up to the terrible mistake they made in electing obama and removing this disgrace from office...

    December 6, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Mark

    Can someone please explain to some of these Fox News viewers that Obama doesn't want to raise their taxes. If you make $1 million per year, yes he wants to raise your taxes. Mr. Obama lowered your taxes in 2009 and 2010 (remember the stimulus that Republicans voted against? They were tax cuts that you enjoyed) He also lowered your payroll tax this year and wants to give you an even bigger cut next year. So please get your facts straight in here.

    December 6, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. Eric

    Great speech. But he's the one perpetuating the problems. His advisors are all insiders, so he's colluding with criminals basically. If he got rid of them, and the greed followed I would vote for him again. Short of that. No thanks, speeches don't do schmidt.

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

    The only solution the GOP has is Trump since all the little chickens head to his cube.

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

    Everything this guy has done since coming in to office has killed jobs. That is what is killing the middle class. I hope America wakes up and realizes what a moron he is before its too late!!

    December 6, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Jacket88

    A lost generation of kids with helicopter parents, that shelter their kids from reality.
    Excessive military spending
    Excessive government waste
    Too many people not paying any federal income tax
    Too many Washington insiders
    Too many career politicians
    A tax code that is too complicated
    Two political parties that do not have a clue!!!

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