Obama, Francis to meet amid shared economic view

The president will have his first meeting with the pope on March 27 during a four-day European trip.
Associated Press
Jan 21, 2014


When President Barack Obama meets Pope Francis in the Vatican in March, both men will speak a common economic language rooted in similar views about poverty and income inequality, giving prominence to an issue that the U.S. president wants to be a central theme of his second term.

In the complicated relationship between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church, the White House sees the popular new pontiff and his emphasis on the plight of the poor as a form of moral validation of the president's economic agenda. When Obama delivered a major address on the economy last month, he cited the growth of inequality across the developed world and made sure to note that "the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length."

The White House and the Vatican announced Tuesday that Obama will meet with the pope on March 27 during a four-day European trip that includes a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands and a U.S.-European Union summit in Brussels. The meeting is the first between the president and Pope Francis.

Obama had an audience with the previous pope, Benedict XVI, in July 2009. At the time, the Vatican underscored the deep disagreement between them on abortion. Benedict gave the president a copy of a Vatican document on bioethics that asserted the church's opposition to using embryos for stem cell research, cloning and in-vitro fertilization. Obama supports stem cell research.

Francis has made it clear that Catholic positions on homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion haven't changed.

"But in his view those issues which create conflict need to be deemphasized a bit," said John C. Green, a political scientist who specializes in religion and politics at the University of Akron.

The pope a stir in November when he decried trickle-down theories that assert that economic growth can result in greater justice and inclusiveness as unproven. "The excluded are still waiting," he wrote.

Paul Begala, a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, said Obama can only benefit from Francis' emphasis on economic disparities.

"It becomes very difficult for conservatives to attack President Obama for being divisive, when the world's greatest figure for unity is saying pretty much the same thing," Begala said.

Still, Francis' attention to poverty has also captured the attention of Republicans, among them Rep. Paul Ryan, a devout Catholic and Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012. Other Republicans, such as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky have also staked out prominent anti-poverty positions.

The economic theme will be a centerpiece of Obama's State of the Union address next week. But his specific policies — a higher minimum wage, universal pre-school and ending loopholes for the wealthy — face difficulty in Congress in an election year.

"American Catholics as a whole don't tend to take specific policy guidance from the pope, whether it's Pope Benedict or Pope Francis," Green said. "But what the pope can do is to get them thinking about particular issues and thinking about them in distinctly Catholic ways. That kind of rethinking could very well be an advantage to President Obama."

The issue of health care has highlighted other disagreements between the administration and the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been a high-profile critic of a provision in Obama's health care law that requires employers to provide insurance coverage that includes birth control.

Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the control requirement, but affiliated institutions that serve the general public are not. That includes charitable organizations, universities and hospitals, and critics say that violates religious liberty. The issue is now before the Supreme Court.



After these two polar opposites meet, we can expect the result to be an "ethics vortex"

There you go again

How does Obama explain the increase in income inequity during his term? Oh, wait, is this another distraction from the ObamNOcare?


Simple. Income inequity didn't just begin in 2009, it began to ramp up immediately an exponentially during the Reagan years. Nothing much has been done - by anyone - to address it during the next 40 years. Compounding the problem, of course, is the obvious fact that Republicans are paddling the boat in the opposite direction, as they continue to advocate policies that help the 1%. You may have heard about the recent government shutdown and sequester? Those occurred because a sizeable portion of the GOP electorate thought it was more important to maintain tax cuts for millionaires and subsidies for million-dollar farmers and oil companies, while asking the poor and middle class to absorb the costs of the above.

Aside from the obvious stupidity of expecting Obama to fix (in a little more than 4 years)a systemic problem that no else else has been able to fix for the past 40 years, while the conservative party fights every effort by him to decrease the inequality gap, what is most amazing about your post is that it ignores the recent history we all have lived through together over the past 10+ years.

There are only 2 good reasons to vote Republican these days. Either you're rich and heartless, or stupid and brainless.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

If you were Kind of the United States and had unquestioned and unilateral authority to dictate policy, how would you end "income inequality"?


Re: "There are only 2 good reasons to vote Republican these days."

# 3. Your ONLY other choice is a big govt. lovin' progressive-socialist.

Darwin's choice

"stupid and brainless" you say? Well, moron, here are the people you align yourself with.....


Michele Obama emulates hanoi jane fonda!!!

You keep digging coasterfan.....your stupidity is alarming!


Seriously? Obama with advice about economies? He has spent more money in his first four years than ALL THE PAST PRESIDENTS COMBINED and the libtards who post here thinks he has real solutions?

Obamacare has caused many just this week to loose insurance, Target, Home Depot, Trader Joes all announced they are dropping health insurance to all their part time workers, which makes up most of their employee's.
"Record 20% of Households on Food Stamps in 2013" http://cnsnews.com/image/food-st...

""Actual unemployment is 37.2%, 'misery index' worst in 40 years""

Lets be honest, the only reason this incompetent buffoon is still in office is because of his race and political party. Any other person of color would have been thrown out at warp speed. He has broken more Constitutional laws than anyone in history and continues to do so, and the Republicans sit around like scared little immature kids who's afraid of the 'king of the play ground'.


Seriously, a Republican with advice about economies? The last time a Republican was president, he turned a budget surplus into a $10 trillion deficit. Then, after Bush dumped the "flaming dog turd in a bag" economy on Obama's doorstep, conservatives had the gall to complain that Obama hasn't fixed the problems THEY caused "quickly enough".

Of COURSE more people are on food stamps today. That's what happens after your country goes through the Bush Recession of 2007-2008 and millions of jobs disappear. It's what happens when the House STILL pushes the same economic policies that caused the recession.

Your stats on spending are incorrect. During Obama's first term, spending increased an average of 1.8% per year, compared with more than 8% per year during the Bush years. You do understand that 8% is a bigger number than 1.8%, right?

If the misery index is higher, it's a direct - DIRECT - result of Republican policies which continue to apply Draconian cuts to the poor and middle class, while giving tax breaks to millionaires who don't need them.

Obama is in office because a majority of Americans find Republican policies(and their candidates) to be reprehensible. You lost because your party refuses to evolve and alienates everyone but their shrinking base of angry old white men, the God 'n guns crowd, and poor rednecks who are too stupid to realize their own party is putting the screws to them.

In closing, before you question the intelligence of liberals, perhaps you should learn to use spell-check. In your paragraph 2, you used the word "loose" instead of "lose". In the same paragraph, you used an apostrophe in the word "employees", when none was needed. In the final paragraph, instead of the word who's, you should have used "who are", or possibly "whose".

Even if your rhetoric bore even a slight resemblance to actual facts (which it doesn't), your point is derailed by the fact that you lack basic word understanding and punctuation skills. Nobody wants to listen to someone who ISN'T smarter than a 5th grader.


Your majority that put Obama into office has had voter regrets; much like a bride who finds out the man she wanted and married was a liar, which Obama has proven himself to be. You, Dog and a few others refuse to admit to the facts even though the polls show that the majority of Americans have the same views as me. And even if I or anyone else spell every other word wrong or make grammatical mistakes does not change the facts that your Messiah has lied and broken many laws and is not being accountable for them.


Perhaps, but they would still choose Obama, if given a chance to do so again. Oh wait, that DID happen. He got re-elected in 2012.

If a majority of Americans had the same views as you, your candidates would win a presidential election now and again, wouldn't you think? Obama isn't my Messiah. I realize that he is far from perfect, like any other policitian. I also realize that he was - and still is - a far better option than any of the GOP candidates in 2008 and 2012.

Please provide your list of laws Obama has broken. It's funny, I haven't seen any of those listed on any of the major networks or Al Jazeera. The only place that reports conspiracy bunk like that is Fox. Tell me, did they run a retraction a few days ago, when the bi-partisan congressional committee announced that there was no gov't coverup with Benghazi? Does Fox ever run a retraction when they clearly are proven wrong?


Heres a starter list of federal laws the admin have broken. There are plenty more.
FCC: Regulation of the Internet in the face of a court order from Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. stating that the FCC does not have the power to regulate the Internet
PPACA: Individual Mandate; To be heard by Supreme Court of the United States in March
EPA 1: GHG lawsuit; EPA’s own Inspector General reported last September that EPA failed to comply with its own data standards; Heard in Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. in February
OSM: Attempting to impose regulatory requirements on the 19 states with authority for exclusive regulation of their coalmines for the first time in more than 30 years
NLRB: Boeing; Engaged in unprecedented behavior as described by former Chairmen under both Presidents Bush (43) and Clinton; behavior is best exemplified in South Carolina where the Board tried to muzzle over 80 percent of state voters who supported a secret ballot amendment to the South Carolina Constitution and attempted unsuccessfully to tell an employer in the state where they can and cannot base manufacturing facilities
EPA: Florida Water; EPA’s numeric nutrient criteria pre-empted Florida standards; U.S. District Judge upheld the state’s site-specific alternative criteria for streams and rivers
EPA: Texas Air; TX filed lawsuit challenging Cross-State Air Pollution Rules; application rule to TX was particularly dubious because state was included in the regulation at the last minute and without an opportunity to respond to the proposed regulation; regulation was based on a dubious claim that air pollution from TX affected a single air-quality monitor in Granite City, Illinois more than 500 miles and three states away from Texas
EPA: Oklahoma Air; EPA illegally usurped Oklahoma’s authority in the Clean Air Act to determine the state’s own plan for addressing sources of emissions that affect visibility, by imposing a federal implementation plan; Federal plan goes beyond the authority granted to the EPA in the Clean Air Act and will result in $2 billion in cost to install technology needed to complete the EPA plan, and a permanent increase of 15-20 percent in the cost of electricity; Obama Administration is fighting Oklahoma’s appeal, which was filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
HHS: Religious Liberty; HHS mandated religious entities such as Catholic, Baptist and Jewish schools and churches be required to provided medical services they find unconscionable to their employees; President attempted to compromise with an “accommodation” in name only that required insurance companies to provide the services for free to the religious organization employees; Accommodation made matters worse as many religious-base hospitals and schools are self-insurers; Seven Attorneys General filed suit to protect religious liberty and oppose the HHS mandate
DOJ: South Carolina & Voting Rights Act: Rejecting voter ID statutes that are similar to those already approved by the Supreme Court of the United States; DOJ ignored section 8 of the Voting Rights Act which calls for protections against voter fraud, and used section 5 to administratively block measures to protect the integrity of elections passed by state legislatures in preclearance states including South Carolina; South Carolina voter ID law merely requires a voter to show photo identification in order to vote or to complete an affidavit at the pain of perjury if the voter does not have a photo ID
DOJ: Arizona & Voting Rights Act: Rejecting voter ID statutes that are similar to those already approved by the Supreme Court of the United States
DOJ: Arizona Immigration; In violation of 10th Amendment, federal government to sue to prevent AZ from using reasonable measures to discourage illegal immigration within Arizona’s borders; Affects Arizona because state has a large percentage, compared to other states, of illegal immigrants and need to be able to act to reduce the number
DOJ: Alabama Immigration; The DOJ challenged Alabama’s immigration reform laws after parts were “green lighted” by a federal judge; DOJ appealed the ruling; parts of the AL case have been struck down in various federal courts; specific provisions of the law include collection of the immigration status of public school students, businesses must use E-Verify, prohibition of illegal immigrants receiving public benefits; the provision requiring immigrants to always carry alien registration cards; allowance of lawsuits by state citizens who do not believe public officials are enforcing the law
DOJ: South Carolina Immigration; DOJ challenged South Carolina’s immigration reform laws that are very similar to the AZ which is scheduled to appear before the United States Supreme Court; SC case will be heard by the 4th Circuit soon there after as the 4th Circuit granted SC motion to extend the filing time until after the US Supreme Court issues an Opinion in AZ
Congressional: “Recess” appointments to NLRB (three) and CFPB (one)
EEOC: Hosanna Tabor (MI); Sought to reinstate a minister who was discharged for her disagreement with the religious doctrine of the church
DOE: Yucca Mountain; In 2009, Administration arbitrarily broke federal law and derailed the most studied energy project in American history when DOE announced intent to withdraw 8,000 page Yucca Mountain licensing application with prejudice; SC and Washington State filed suit, as a result, contesting the unconstitutional action; American people have paid more than $31 billion (including interest) through percentages of electric rate fees towards the project and taxpayers have footed an addition $200 million in legal feeds and over $2 billion in judgments against the DOE for breaking contracts associated with Yucca Mountain

JMOP's picture

The last republican in office turned a surplus into a deficit. True.

Look up who was in the majority of the House and Senate in 2007-2008. Thank you for making a point that primary elections are important. Keep voting democrat, keep getting poorer.

Please don't forget the current democrat in office spent more than all presidents.
combined. What was the unemployment average when Bush was in office? Less than 6%. What is obama average of unemployment? Over 7%.


From a CNBC report,
"The U-6 rate was unchanged in December at 13.1 percent"


Love your post, JMOP. It shows how statistics can be used to skew the truth.
Who cares about the unemployment average under Bush? What matters is that he took it to over 10% during the recession, and that it continued to rise exponentially right before he left office. Almost immediately after Obama took office, it began go do down, and has dropped more than 4 % points since he took office.

It's not just Bush. The deficit has grown under every Republican president since 1980. From where I'm sitting, it's the GOP who makes people poorer.

Every month, they push new legislation towards that goal. This month, they're fighting a rise in minimum wage. Last month, GOP governors in many states were fighting Medicare funding for their state, although it wouldn't cost them a cent. Republicans are now fighting an extension of Unemployment Insurance.

It must be extremely embarrassing for you when all the available evidence points in the exact opposite direction of what you're saying. I have a funny feeling that you're unaware of that....

JMOP's picture

You're a spunky one aren't you. Silly kid, facts aren't for democrats, brainwashing is.

"It must be extremely embarrassing for you when all the available evidence points in the exact opposite direction of what you're saying. I have a funny feeling that you're unaware of that...."
How can it be embarrassing for me, if you believe I'm unaware of it? You most hear no evil, speak no evil, or see no evil in your king. Must be nice living with blinders on in life.

Don't know why you don't have a PR job with Obama, that way you two could meet and fall in love, and who knows marriage? I'm thinking Michelle wants greener pastures.

Here's a little fun fact chart, don't worry, it's not from Fox News, it's from the U.S. Dept. Of Labor. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/L...


LOL, Truth2! You're the best entertainment in town - and it's free! I'm not upset; my party is in the White House and there doesn't seem to be much indication that will change in 2016.

Do tell us: what color is the sky in the world where you live? We who live on Earth don't deny that the U.S. had a huge recession in 2007-2008. You're apparently in denial about a "few" other things, too.

Your spelling errors SHOULD have caused you to think "Hmm...I made incorrect word choices, punctuation choices and spelling mistakes, and I was completely unaware of that. I wonder if there are other things that I don't understand, and am unaware of?".

Unfortunately, you're not trained to even consider that as a possibility. You're a child of Fox Network, in which attacks are considered a proper substitute for knowledge, in which each "news" story only tells half of the story. You're the member of a party that is anti-education and anti-science -basically anti-knowledge - yet you think it's Democrats/liberals who are stupid. Meh...

This is pleasing to me, for as long as Republicans continue to think as you do, your party will continue to lose Presidential elections. Please, whatever you do, don't change.


Your correct Coaster, you are perfect and all intelligent.


The U.S. national debt stood at $10.6T on Pres. Bush's last day in office.

The debt under Pres. Obama is $17.3T (and growing).

So, during the Obama admin. the national debt has increased by 63%?

Yea, this guy is a fiscal conservative and an economic genius!

Keep the faith and keep preachin' brother coasterfan! lol.


The Debt was 5.768 Trillion the day bush took office and 10.626 Trillion. making 4.858 Trillion debt under bush in 8 years. The debt was 10.626 when obama took office. the debt after 5 years of obama is 17.3 Trillion, making the debt increase after 5 years 6.7 Trillion. Deficit projection are for 757 billion for this year. and more deficits far into the future. The last few years such projections have been lower then actual spending.

When using statistics it seems to be best to show both percentages of increase or decrease as well as the raw numbers from the years. But only if you want an honest discussion, it is easy to disguise what they actually mean or show. Also it is Congress that passes any spending bill. This goes for both "parties". It is foolish to put all the blame on one person or party. They (both "parties" politicians) all over spent for decades. It is easier to spend than to live within your means.

Kick the can down the road and let the next guy pay the bill. It is too hard to do now, let someone else do it. Many people, outside the gov't have the same outlook, let someone else (gov't) pay for my goodies. Only those who are rich or have saved, invested and lived within their means should pay. After all that would be what they (who weren't born rich) (or lived within their means, saved, and invested) call "fair". How else can they justify taking from others? They have to be "fair", after all they are the "good" people. They wouldn't steal, they just want to make life "fair" for those less fortunate (those who didn't live within their means, save, and invest, or have the good sense to be born into a "rich" family). To me they have a strange definition of "fair".


Re: "It is foolish to put all the blame on one person or party."

Not disagreeing with you, but our lefty blog buddies seem to have a monochromatic view of politics.

Our interest expense on debt outstanding was $416B in 2013.

It already exceeds the amount of all other fed spending. Based on projections, we could be spending over $1T annually by 2020.

If interest rates rise as expected, all the partisan finger pointing won't help one iota.



Re: "Our interest expense on debt outstanding was $416B in 2013."

That is higher than any deficit under bush except for his last year. It is also lower than any of obama's deficits... and projected deficits. The interest payment will grow every year, till the budget is balanced, if that ever happens, or it is defaulted.


Why would a socialist want to meet the Pope?


Re: "Why would a socialist want to meet the Pope?"

Maybe he's casing the place for a future bout of 'redistribution of assets'?

Darwin's choice

Maybe he want's that exorcism he needs.....


"When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" (LK 18:22)

Pope Francis might oughta put a few of those Michelangelo sculptures and a couple Raphael paintings on eBay or Craigslist.

Also, Il Papa may wanna be careful; the relationship between The Church and communists has a very poor history.


Interesting. The richest church (and one of the richest corporations, PERIOD) in the world meets with a multi-millionaire to chat income inequality. I wonder if either man would be interested in a few suggestions...

Actually, the Catholic Church has leaned socialist for many years (as long as it gets ITS 10%, of course!). Unfortunately, the current administration is running full speed ahead on a parallel track to the same destination. Here's a hint: Those tracks are positively PAVED with good intentions!