Obama: Income inequality a defining challenge

President calls on Congress to increase minimum wage to $10.10 an hour
Associated Press
Dec 5, 2013

President Barack Obama prodded Congress to raise wages and secure the social safety net as he issued an overarching appeal Wednesday to correct inequalities that he said make it harder for a child in the United States to escape poverty. "That should offend all of us," he declared. "We are a better country than this."

Focusing on the pocketbook issues that Americans consistently rank as a top concern, Obama argued that the dream of upward economic mobility is breaking down and that the growing income gap is a "defining challenge of our time."

"The basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed," the president said in remarks at a nonprofit community center a short drive from the White House in one of Washington's most impoverished neighborhoods.

Though he offered no new initiatives, Obama blended a call for Congress to act on pending short-term economic measures with a long vision aimed at correcting a growing level of income inequality in the United States. The speech came amid public doubts over Obama's stewardship of the economy, as his overall approval ratings sink and as he seeks to move past the health care troubles that have consumed his presidency in recent months.

He acknowledged his administration's "poor execution" in rolling out the flawed website that was supposed to be an easy portal for purchasing insurance, while blaming Republicans for a "reckless" shutdown of the government.

"Nobody has acquitted themselves very well these past few months," Obama said. "So it's not surprising that the American people's frustrations with Washington are at an all-time high." Worse for Americans, he added, are their growing difficulties in trying to make ends meet no matter how hard they work.

The speech coincided with growing national and international attention to economic disparities — from the writings of Pope Francis to the protests of fast-food workers in the U.S. The president cited the pope's question of how it isn't news when an elderly homeless person dies from exposure, but news when the stock market loses two points.

And he noted that in the United States, a child born into the bottom 20 percent of income levels has less than a 5 percent chance of making it to the top income levels and is 10 times likelier to stay where he is — worse than other industrial countries such as Canada, Germany and France.

House Speaker John Boehner blamed Senate Democrats and Obama for the lack of action on jobs-related legislation. He said bills passed by the Republican-controlled House that would help the economy and create jobs have been blocked in the Democratic-controlled Senate. "The Senate and the president continue to stand in the way of the people's priorities," he said on the House floor.

Obama conceded that "the elephant in the room" is the political gridlock that has prevented congressional action. He said issues of inequality of upward mobility would not likely be resolved even over the next five years. But he pointed to the health care law as one example that he said is already helping families by providing insurance coverage to more Americans and by pushing down the costs of health care.

Obama specifically called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. A Democratic bill by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in three steps and tie automatic annual increases to changes in the cost of living. No vote has been scheduled on the proposal.

Obama also pressed Congress to extend jobless benefits to 1.3 million long-term unemployed people. The benefits are set to expire just three days after Christmas. The additional weeks of benefits have been extended each year since 2009, but a senior Republican lawmaker, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said Tuesday that Republicans oppose yet another extension.

Comments

kURTje

Well finally you did observe...still hate God? (three score & 10...get your heart right soon oldster)

Contango

Re: "get your heart right soon oldster,"

“Geez mommy,” - kURTje, 12/01/2013

Ya might wanna whine for mommy again and see if it makes it all better. :)

The Big Dog's back

I think it should be more like $15.

toredown11

If your hatred for President Obama is so strong that it blinds you to see that the income inequity is not only bad for the country, but morally wrong, maybe you'll listen to the Pope:

"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

And I know that a lot of people's hatred for Obama is based on his skin color, so you'll probably dismiss this because it comes from Nelson Mandela, but they are great words to live by:

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."

kURTje

Well spoken toredown. You like me have probably experienced these people. Self-centered, greedy, joyless, bitter. They missed out on the many joys real life can give. Zombies/walking dead.

Contango

Re: "Well..."

More off-topic, nonsensical ranting from kooky kurtie.

Darwin's choice

And,here we go! More complete insanity from the stooges in the democratic party....

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/11...

Bill to remove term limits for the office of President!!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Let this encourage you, Darwin: http://townhall.com/columnists/c...

Darwin's choice

Thanks......we can only hope!

toredown11

The bill to remove term limits has zero chance of going anywhere. It has been proposed by both parties - even when the other party's president was in office - over 20 times since the 22nd amendment was passed in the late 1940's. Rep Serrano - the most recent to propose this - has done this every year since 1997 (so, under Clinton, Bush, and Obama).

Neither party wants this to pass, and not only would both houses have to pass the bill, but each state legislature would as is required for any changes to the Constitution.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I'm all for Congressional term limits! You are right about this guy, though, and beat me to it. Good catch!

Nemesis

2/3 of state legislatures, toredown.

Dr. Information

Disagree with how horrible Obama has been running this country and the left has to bring out the race card. That shows nothing more than weakness in their part.

The New World Czar

Notice how the Democratic party has gone from being "the working man's party" to "the non-working person's party"?

Contango

lol

8ballinthesidepocket

Best comment of the year!!!

8ballinthesidepocket

Just goes to confirm the inexperience of Obozo! Wage differences should mirror the difference in skill level or performance. To make everybody equal in terms of wages rewards the sloths and hinders those that want to excel and advance. This not about wages at all, it is about more government control over us. As these Dems keep passing out the free stuff they recruit more and more lazy voters. Certainly there are people that need help, but why don't they help themselves rather than helping their selves to my wallet? Was it my fault they didn't get an education while instead were spitting out babies at 14 and 15 not even knowing who the daddy was? Was it my fault they didn't get the parental guidance I did? Again, where's the daddy? Where is the family support unit? I guess it's my fault that everybody does not have the brain power to be engineers or brain surgeons. Must be because I end up paying for these no accounts. There should be a time limit on all welfare programs rather continuing the parade of families who have made welfare programs their means of subsistance from generation to generation. Aren't you people sick and tired of this president who has 40 million more people to the food stamp roles? Wants to give all benefits to illegal aliens, trying desperately to get us to swallow that they are not illegal, just mis placed persons. What we don't need is another four years of this kind of administration when we finally get rid of the worst president ever!!

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