tv MSNBC Live MSNBC December 4, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PST
♪ pillsbury cookie dough. make the holidays pop! so you're looking right now at the inside the center for american progress for washington, d.c., this is where any minute president obama will be back on the bully pulpit as he tries to reset the script on his signature legislation and his second term as well. hi, everybody, good morning. i'm thomas roberts. this developing news tops the agenda today. multi tasker in chief. as i said, in just a few minutes the president will deliver that speech that will be a two-fer. his remarks about income inequality and how his health care reform can help close the gap. day two of the white house to regain control of the rocky rollout of the affordable care act. yesterday he fended off the gop attacks. >> the bottom line is this law is working and will work into the future. we're going to keep on working to fix whatever problems come
up. you got good ideas? bring them to me. let's go. but we're not repealing it as long as i'm president. we're not going to walk away from it. if i've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what i'll do. >> and then there is tomorrow when the president will focus on those so-called young invincibles. he'll join chris matthews for a town hall meeting at american university in washington, d.c., on "hardball." then back on the hill republicans are not backing down. three different committees are holding hearings on health care reform today in the gop-led house. they're putting their focus on highlighting details of cancelled coverage and higher costs. >> the reality is under this system you're going to have millions of winners. i'll be the first to acknowledge that. but you'll have tens of millions of losers as well. you're getting government into a marketplace that it doesn't understand, that it doesn't manage well. >> democrats on the hill are backing up their man. they have assembled a strike team, specifically chosen
members of the house and senate who will help to deliver the party's message on the health care law. joining me right now is vermont senator bernie sanders. sir, it's good to see you this morning. as i pointed out, the president will speak in moments from now highlighting the aca and speaking against income inequality and trying to frame his agenda for the next three years and that does include this renewed push to raise the minimum wage. that is something that two-thirds of americans including more than half of republicans are on board with. the minimum wage currently $7.25 an hour. we've got a current senate bill to raise it to $10.10. however, sir, as we look at "the new york times" it points out it's likely to hit a wall when it comes to the house. republicans argue an increase would force employers to lay off workers and reduce hours. how does the president make meaningful progress when the republicans in the house are constantly putting up roadblocks. >> well, he makes them an offer
they can't refuse. that is you rally the american people to demand that the starvation minimum wage today of $7.25 is raised to at least $10.10 an hour. that's something the people in every state want. they know most of the new jobs being created are low wage, part-time. they know that the middle class is disappearing. they know that the gap between the very, very wealthy and everybody else is growing wider. what the president has got to do is make the american people look at their republican representatives and say if you don't start standing with the struggling working families of this country, you're not going to be back in congress next year. >> senator, the president's speech tuesday effectively hit the reset button on his promotion of the aca as we've been covering the website steadily improving and former president bill clinton back tracking about his earlier remarks about the law which did so much damage. i want to play how the president is getting in line with president obama now. >> how difficult it is for you
to suggest something to a sitting president. do you take credit for president barack obama honoring his word on obama care? >> first of all, i think it's important to point out he actually has tried to go beyond what he promised now. and in many places, he will be able to do that. >> you don't take credit for that? >> no. i waited for him to say that he felt badly about it. but the truth is the law that he signed did grandfather in the policies that were in existence when he signed the law. >> so we're hearing from a different tone of bill clinton there, senator. we've got the newfound confidence that we're watching from the president, his white house, this new strike team. there are some of leaders right there, these democratic lawmakers. do you think there's enough time for the president to rewrite the narrative on obama care? >> absolutely. absolutely, thomas. the main point that has to be made is that the current system before the aca is absolutely dysfunctional. 48 million people, no health
insurance. we spent twice as much per capita on health care as the people of any other nation. if we spent what other nations spent on health care, we'd save $900 billion a year. 45,000 people die in this con electroeve -- country every year because they don't have insurance and don't get to the doctor on time. we pay the highest price in the world on prescription drugs. this is a system that cannot last. in my view, i think we should be moving toward a medicare for all single payer system. but the aca is a step forward. 20 million people have more health insurance. we end the disaster of the obscenity, the obscenity of this pre-existing conditions imposed upon us by the insurance companies. now, the good news is the website appears to be functioning better. some states are doing very, very well. let's continue the effort, let's make sure that we are as aggressive as we can to get health care to adds many people as possible. >> sir, as we know from the
right the repeal talk of this law is over, so this is a marathon to see the aca and how it will function. but as we know going into 2014 republicans have been saying that they're going to nail obama care to the foreheads of democrats who said they're going to run on the health care law. check out the number of republican governors up for re-election in states that voted for obama. many of them opted out of one of the most successful parts of the law and that gets us to medicaid expansion. in this morning's "washington post" democrats are using medicaid expansion to paint governors as hostage to a national tea party agenda. in your opinion is the health care law going to be the determining issue when it comes to control of congress and those governorships in the coming elections? >> well, it certain low will ly very, very important. if i were a republican governor and i'm in a state where the federal government is paying 100% of the cost for expanding medicaid, i have tens and tens of thousands of people in my state who could get health
insurance in many cases for the first time in their lives and i am denying them that opportunity? man, i would be very, very worried. but i think that's one issue. the other issue, obviously, is the economy. high unemployment, growing disparity in wealth and income in this country. >> vermont senator bernie sanders, great to have you on this morning. thanks for your time. >> thank you. >> absolutely. after the president's speech on the economy this morning, he's going t stop by this afternoon's white house youth summit. the goal is to engage the so-called young invincibles, ages 18 to 35, that the white house is banking on to make obama care a success. joining me is dr. coreyhebert and elizabeth plank, executive social editor at policy mike. it's great to have you both here. elizabeth, in just a few hours policy mike is launching this week-long competition at today's youth summit. tell us about the competition and how you're hoping to engage the conversation about insurance.
>> sure. we're really excited to be launching this competition today at the white house. we're going to be inviting millennials from across the country to give their ideas, their proposals and project ideas about how we can make health care work better for our generation. we think that -- we're really excited that the white house has accepted to read all of the proposals and basically will be responding to the best ones. we'll ask millennials across the country to vote for the best ones too. >> opening up the conversation on this, dr. hebert, social media is a great strategy to get voices heard but we look at a "new york times" article and it gets to the financial issue of what this means to the youth generation. several people in this group reported in the thousands for just a few stitches and the inflation as we look at a single tylenol for knee surgery is eye-opening and frustrate. so is this the picture of a functioning system that doesn't need to be fixed or the complete opposite of that, that this needs to be turned upside down on its head and shaken until we
can make this effective for all? >> i think that the system needs to be overhauled because i'm still reeling from the republicans' comments about comparing the affordable care rollout to katrina, because i'm a katrina-surviving doctor. really this whole botched rollout thing could be a canary in the coal mine for the obama care situation. why? think about it, for the young millennials, they are now aware that they had garbage insurance, so that's a big deal. that will save lots of lives. really number two, if this thing actually galvanized a lot of people that didn't really know if they were really supporting the affordable care act anyway, so it got rid of all the fluffy democrats that weren't dug in for the long haul. number three, it made people actually more active and engaged in their own health care, especially the young millennials. so really what's going to happen now is if this train cheekeeps
chugging along and the website keeps going, it's going to make the affordable care act even better to turn this system upside down so we can get affordable care for the people that need it. >> you make a great point about personal responsibility and the knowledge we all need to have about what our health care system is like, the costs of it, but what it means to actually protect ourselves. elizabeth, the rnc released a statement about the youth summit saying this isn't a seat at the table, it's a seat at the kids table. really it's offensive that the democrats think they can make things right with a social and some warmed-over talking points. what's your reaction to that, first off? do you think that millennials are angry about obama care and a botched rollout, as the republicans would suggest? >> well, when you actually look at the polls, you can see the millennials are really divided when it comes to the affordable care act. so it's pretty much split down the middle for every millennial who is excited, engaged and wants to go sign up, we have another millennial who is opposed to it and has a lot of
questions. so -- but we still see that there is a sense of optimism in millennials as well, so seven out of ten millennials do think that this bill, this law, this health care reform can really work for us. so that's why we're so excited to be going to the white house today and launching this competition to get this dialogue going. >> as we know the health care laws facing fresh legal challenges, both the authority of the president, the irs but we get complaints from religious organizations over funding contraception. these are backed by republican allies on the hill and yet there's still no gop proposal for a solution. do you think that that is just cursing the dark without lighting a candle? >> absolutely. there is a -- shocker, there is no gop solution. the fact that they're using religion to try to get this overturned is really one of the lowest points of their ole party push to destroy the president as
well as the health care for all. so that one kicked me in the belly, i'll tell you that. people out there listening to that, please realize that women especially will be able to have more health care than they ever had when this thing is up and running the correct way. >> elizabeth plank, good luck with what you're doing today at the white house, thanks to both of you. we are expecting the president to make remarks from washington, d.c. coming up in just a few minutes. here's a live look. when that happens, we'll bring those remarks to you in full. once again the president will join chris matthews in a town hall from american university tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. eastern on "hardball." you don't want to miss it. so a question for you, do republicans really believe racism is over? well, a tweet this week from the rnc about rosa parks is raising questions about whether republicans get it when it comes to race. they have said that they want to make changes about diversity outreach. i'll have a chance to speak with one of the people tasked with
that outreach for republicans. and we want to leave you on this note, a quick look outside the view here at our windows at 30 rock. the tree is primed and primped, ready to be lit tonight. and get this, it's 50 degrees here in new york city. mariah carey, mary j. blige, the goo goo dolls are among the performances you'll see tonight and the "today" show gang will be there for the ceremony starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern here on nbc. [ male announcer ] we took new febreze free with no perfume to prove the skeptics wrong. hi. are you karen? [ karen ] yes, i am you said in a focus group, "they just mask the smell." i'm going to ask you to find the smelliest item in your home. here. okay. [ laughs ] very, very strong dog odor. this is febreze free. it has no perfume. wow. now it smells clean, and it doesn't have an odor. you're welcome. [ male announcer ] odor elimination without masking.
washington, d.c. president obama will take the podium any minute from now and deliver live remarks to us. this speech is about income inequality but we expect him to bring up his signature health care legislation and how it's going to help close the income inequality gap. again, we'll bring you those remarks live as soon as they happen. first, it's been nine months since the rnc published an autopsy report about its 2012 election efforts and vowed to concentrate on attracting minority voters. but the latest effort to reach out to black voters is leaving many to wonder if the republican party is tone deaf. on sunday they posted a tweet to commemorate rosa parks' arrest saying today we remember rosa parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism. they later tweeted it should have acknowledged her role in fighting to end racism. jonathan capehart used the tweet to discuss the ways the gop appears to be out of touch with minorities saying autopsies are done on dead things. ever since its march 2013 release, the gop has done
everything possible to stay dead. and it's not just the rnc, republicans in the house held a hearing to examine the constitutionality of the president's aca actions and the "i" word came up. >> we've also talked about the "i" word, impeachment, which again i don't think would get past the senate in the current climate. am i missing anything? >> did republicans forget that president obama was elected with over 90% african-american support and perhaps, just perhaps those voters don't want to hear talk of impeaching america's first african-american black. last night on "hardball" michael steele reacted to the rosa parks' tweet. >> it speaks to the lack of connection and the fact that internally there is no objective oversight. there's no one looking at that with a black voice, if you will, who can say, you know, this is not going -- a, historically incorrect, factually wrong, but
more importantly, b, it's not going to resonate with the audience you're trying to reach. >> orlando watson is the rnc's newly appointed communications director for black media and joins us now to talk about this, also about the outreach going forward. orlando, i have to say you got one of the hardest jobs in america right now, because you were brought on as part of the rnc's effort to reach out to african-american voters as a result of the autopsy results. so what's your first reaction to michael steele's comment about the tone deafness of the party as it currently stands? >> hey, thomas, let me first start off with saying that it's great to be here. and since this is my first time on your show, i'd like to sort of break some news by setting the record straight. early sunday morning the rnc sent out a statement, a statement right here that a lot of press offices received as well as msnbc honoring the legacy of rosa parks. a few hours later a tweet went out that had a typo in it, a typo. we later clarified that typo
and -- but continued to focus on the statement that honored rosa parks, yet no one wanted to cover this statement. a statement that didn't have that typo in it. you yourself noted that as well as others at nbc. >> we did cover it yesterday, orlando. we did cover the statement yesterday that came out because we got it right before -- on monday actually because we did a segment on this and you guys had sent us that statement. so we did get it on the air. some people would say that the autopsy report, you know, that came out -- >> thomas, i was just going to say it's called the growth in opportunity report. and talking about a typo and a tweet, it's old news. i'd like to talk a little bit about some of the things that we're doing here at the republican party to engage black voters as well as other ethnic groups, so let's talk about that. >> well, let's talk about that. do you think, though, that because of the fact -- and i was reading some conservative websites about the reaction to how the rnc responded to this
and some people were commenting, you know, don't apologize. there's nothing to feel guilty for. the rnc did nothing wrong. the mere fact that it keeps trying to amend what its statement was in the first place makes it look guilty. how would you respond to those statements? >> thomas, this is our statement here. i'll read it to you if you would like but we're honoring the legacy of rosa parks. what those other people are obsessing over is a typo in a tweet. a typo in a tweet is old news. we should move forward -- >> let's move on because the autopsy report is what created the job that you now have at the rnc. >> the growth in opportunity project. >> yes. so if we want ethnic minority voters to support republicans, this is the contents, we have to engage them and show our sincerity. >> yes. >> that was part of the contents of the autopsy report. but since the report, we've seen efforts by the republican party to disenfranchise voters in this country, african-american voters in north carolina and ohio.
>> that's -- >> do you -- >> that's simply not true. what we've been doing here at the party, let me tell you about some of the things that we've been doing at the party. we've been engaging black voters. we've been going into the communities, showing up, meeting people in the places where they live, in the places where they work, in the places where they worship. just this past month, reince priebus was in detroit meeting with black business and community leaders to talk about ways that we can move forward. talk about positive solutions to some of the problems that ail us. i don't remember the last time debbie wasserman schultz, the head of the democrats national committee was in detroit meeting with black business and community leaders, do you? >> but why would you send rand paul to detroit? >> i'm sorry? look, what we're doing here, what we're doing here at the rnc is an effort -- you know, we realize that we need to expand the electorate so we're making every effort to meet people in the places where they live and
in places where we haven't necessarily always been before. and so, for example, you know, chairman man reince priebus just last month as well was in new orleans meeting with black families, parents and students who benefit from this louisiana scholarship program. let me tell you about the scholarship program they have down there in louisiana. it benefits low income families. white and black. eight out of ten louisianans support the program. that numbers more than 90% amongst black families. why does the president want to shut the door of opportunity on these kids and their families by filing a lawsuit to stop the program? what we have here is a bold program at the rnc that we believe is going to empower communities, empower families and empower individuals. >> okay. let's talk about empowering because right now and we're moments out from the president giving his speech about economic benefits of the health care law, inequality in this country when it comes to income. republicans continue to hold anti-affordable care act hearings on capitol hill and we
look at "the new york times" that shows its analysis of more than 60% of african-americans live in states, almost all of them led by republican governors who refused to expand medicaid coverage under the aca. do you find that to be defensible as you talk about wanting to attract and allowing for personal responsibility in the conversations that republicans support? do you think that's a defensible position for republican governors to take against the aca? >> what i don't find defensible is after five years of living under president obama, you know, he has little to show for what he's done for the black community. in fact if you want to focus on his health care law, his health care law has cost jobs, particularly, you know, jobs in the black community. an he's done very little to speed up the job prospects of millions in black america and millions of americans across the country. so while we're focused on, you know, trying to create jobs, private sector jobs, good-paying jobs, career-making jobs, i
would ask, you know, what exactly has the president done for the black community? and the effects of his policies, the effects of president obama's policies -- >> why didn't the jobs act pass in the house? >> you can ask house republicans. or house democrats. >> but that was a led niinitiate by president obama and had the support that it needed from the democratic side. why didn't that initiative move further through the house? >> yeah. you know, a lot of the president's economic policies are based on tax and spend initiatives, things that we've tried in the past and that have failed. and so, you know, we need to try something new. how about -- let's revitalize that entrepreneurial spirit that makes america graerkts eat, rem red tape and encourage people to hire workers. the people that bear the brunt
are the most vulnerable populations and low income americans. >> orlando watson, rnc communications director for black media, thanks for your time, i appreciate it. >> thanks, thomas. >> good luck with the new job. just to pointing out the programming note, president obama will speak any moment from now on the economy and health care right there. the live podium, the president running a few minutes late. we'll bring that to you right after this. [ female announcer ] it's a grand gesture
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that gap. joining me right now is white house -- nbc white house correspondent peter alexander to talk more about what we expect to hear from the president. peter, the rollout from the white house has been that we expect the president and those that have been tasked with talking about the aca to highlight things each day this month. so how much is this speech really going to be focused on wa obama care. >> well, each day leading up to that december 23rd deadline will focus on the affordable care act. there's a youth event where the president will speak more specifically to health care but this white house will make it clear that health care security is tied into economic security. this is in ways going to preview the state of the union, one of the central themes for the president, which is the desire to create access for all in terms of opportunity to provide his vision for economic security and upward mobility notably as we wait to hear from the president momentarily. this is taking place in a
largely african-american portion of washington, d.c., in the southeast neighborhood known as anacostia where there is high unemployme unemployment. it's taking place in a recreation center which symbolizes the message the president is trying to deliver, where federal and local governments work together with corporations and philanthropists to provide more of that opportunity. that sets the backdrop for what we expect to hear from the president a short time from now. of course the other backdrop that exists in this country is one that creates more of this inequality in the eyes of this white house, which is the fact that the stock market keeps growing, however, the job market hasn't been able to keep up for a lot of americans. thomas. >> peter, i understand she is about to introduce president obama right now so let's go ahead and listen in to these live remarks in full. thanks, peter. >> thank you. thank you, everybody. thank you so much. thank you.
thank you, everybody. please, please, have a seat. thank you so much. thank you, neera, for the wonderful introduction and sharing a story that resonated with me. there were a lot of parallels in my life and probably resonated with some of you. over the past ten years, the center for american progress has done incredible work to shape the debate over expanding opportunity for all americans. and i could not be more grateful not only for giving me a lot of good policy ideas but also giving me a lot of staff. my friend, john, ran my transition. my chief of staff, dennis, did a stint at cap so you obviously are doing a good job training folks. i also want to thank all the
members of congress and my administration that are here today for the wonderful work that they do. i want to thank mayor gray and everyone here at the arc for having me. this center, which i've been to quite a bit and have had a chance to see some of the great work that's done here, and all the nonprofits that call the arc home offer access to everything from education to health care to a safe shelter from the streets, which means that you're harnessing the power of community to expand opportunity for folks here in d.c. and your work reflects a tradition that runs through our history. the belief that we're greater together than we are on our own. and that's what i've come here to talk about today. now, over the last two months, washington has been dominated by some pretty contentious debates. i think that's fair to say. and between a reckless shutdown by congressional republicans in
an effort to repeal the affordable care act and admittedly poor execution on my administration's part in implementing the latest stage of the new law, nobody has acquitted themselves very well these past few months, so it's not surprising that the american people's frustrations with washington are at an all-time high. but we know that people's frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. their frustrations rooted in their own daily battles, to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. it's rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. and it's rooted in the fear that their kids won't be better off than they were. they may not follow the constant back and forth in washington or
all the policy details, but they experience in a very personal way the relentless decades-long trend that i want to spend some time talking about today, and that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle class america's basic bargain. that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. i believe this is the defining challenge of our time. making sure our economy works for every working american. that's why i ran for president. it was the center of last year's campaign. it drives everything i do in this office. and i know i've raised this issue before, and some will ask why i raise the issue again right now. i do it because the outcomes of the debates we're having right now, whether it's health care or
the budget or reforming our housing and financial systems, all these things will have real practical implications for every american, and i am convinced that the decisions we make on these issues over the next few years will determine whether or not our children will grow up in an america where opportunity is real. now, the premise that we're all created equal is the opening line in the american story. and while we don't promise equal outcomes, we have strived to deliver equal opportunity. the idea that success doesn't depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit. and with every chapter we've added to that story, we've worked hard to put those words into practice. it was abraham lincoln, a
self-described poor man's son who started a system of land grant colleges all over this country so that any poor man's son could go learn something new. when farms gave way to factories, a rich man's son named ted edy roosevelt fought r an eight-hour work day, protection for workers and busted monopolies that kept prices high and wages low. when millions lived in poverty, fdr fought for social security and a minimum wage. when millions died without health insurance, lbj fought for fed care medicare and medicaid. together we forged a new deal, declared a war on poverty and a great society. we built a ladder of opportunity to climb and stretched out a safety net beneath so that if we fell, it wouldn't be too far and
we could bounce back. as a result, america built the largest middle class the world has ever known. and for the three decades after world war ii, it was the engine of our prosperity. now, we can't look at the past through rose-colored glasses. the economy didn't always work for everyone. racial discrimination locked millions out of poverty -- or out of opportunity. women were too often confined to a handful of often poorly paid professions. and it was only through pain staking struggle that more women and minorities and americans with disabilities began to win the right to more fairly and fully participate in the economy. nevertheless, during the post-world war ii years, the economic ground felt stable and secure for most americans, and the future looked brighter than the past. and for some, that meant
following in your old man's footsteps at the local plant. and you knew that a blue collar job would let you buy a home and a car and maybe a vacation once in a while, health care, a reliable pension. for others, it meant going to college. in some cases maybe the first in your family to go to college. and it meant graduating without taking on loads of debt and being able to count on advancement through a vibrant job market. now, it's true that those at the top, even in those years, claimed a much larger share of income than the rest. the top 10% consistently took home about one-third of our national income. but that kind of inequality took place in a dynamic market economy where everyone's wages and incomes were growing. and because of upward mobility, the guy on the factory floor could picture his kid running
the company some day. but starting in the late '70s, this social compact began to unravel. technology made it easier for companies to do more with less. eliminating certain job occupations. a more competitive world let companies ship jobs anywhere. and as good manufacturing jobs automated or headed offshore, workers lost their leverage, jobs paid less and offered fewer benefits. as values of community broke down and competitive pressure increased, businesses lobbied washington to weaken unions and the value of the minimum wage. as a trickledown ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthiest, while investments in things that
make us all richer, like schools and infrastructure, were allowed to wither. and for a certain period of time we could ignore this weakening economic foundation, in part because more families were relying on two earners, as women entered the workforce. we took on more debt, financed by a juiced-up housing market. but when the music stopped and the crisis hit, millions of families were stripped of whatever cushion they had left. and the result is an economy that's become profoundly unequal. and families that are more insecure. i'll just give you a few statistics. since 1979, when i graduated from high school, our productivity is up by more than 90%. but the income of the typical family has increased by less than 8%.
since 1979, our economy has more than doubled in size. but most of that growth has flowed to a fortunate few. the top 10% no longer takes in one-third of our income, it now takes half. whereas in the past, the average ceo made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today's ceo now makes 273 times more. and meanwhile, the family in the top 1% has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country. so the basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed. in fact, this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to america's market economy, across the developed world, inequality has increased.
some of you may have seen just last week the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length. how can it be, he wrote, that it's not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points. but this increasing inequality is most pronounced in our country. and it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people. understand, we've never begrudged success in america. we aspire to it. we admire folks who start new businesses, create jobs and invent the products that enrich our lives, and we expect them to be rewarded handsomely for it. in fact, we've often accepted more income inequality than many other nations for one big reason, because we were
convinced that america is a place where even if you're born with nothing, with a little hard work, you can improve your own situation over time and build something better to leave your kids. as lincoln once said, while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. the problem is, that alongside increased inequality, we've seen diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years. a child born in the top 20% has about a two in three chance of staying at or near the top. a child born into the bottom 20% has a less than one in 20 shot at making it to the top. he's ten times likelier to stay where he is. in fact, statistics show not only that our levels of income inequality rank near countries
like jamaica and argentina, but that it is harder today for a child born here in america to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our wealthy allies, countries like canada or germany or france. they have greater mobility than we do, not less. the idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth is heart-breaking enough. but the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us. and it should compel us to action. we are a better country than this. so let me repeat, the combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the american dream, our way of life
and what we stand for around the globe. and it is not simply a moral claim that i'm making here. there are practical consequences to rising inequality and reduced mobility. for one thing, these trends are bad for our economy. one study finds that growth is more fragile and recessions are more frequent in countries with greater inequality. and that makes sense. when families have less to spend, that means businesses have fewer customers. and households rack up greater mortgage and credit card debt. meanwhile, concentrated wealth at the top is less likely to result in the kind of broad low based consumer spending that drives our economy, and together with lax regulation may contribute to risky speculative bubbles.
not just because we tend to trust our institutions less but studies show we actually tend to trust each other less when there's greater inequality. and greater inequality is associated with less mobility between generations. that means it's not just temporary. the effects last. it creates a vicious cycle. for example, by the time she turns 3 years old, a child born into a low income home hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a well-off family. which means by the time she starts school, she's already behind, and that deficit can compound itself over time. and finally, rising inequality and declining mobility are bad for our democracy. ordinary folks can't write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists and
lawyers to tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else's expense, and so people get the bad taste that the system is rigged. and that increases cynicism and polarization and it decreases the political participation that is a requisite part of our system of self-government. so this is an issue that we have to tackle head on. and if in fact the majority of americans agree that our number one priority is to restore opportunity and broad-based growth for all americans, the question is why has washington consistently failed to act? and i think a big reason is the myths that have developed around the issue of inequality. first, there is the myth that this is a problem restricted to
a small share of predominantly minority poor. this isn't a broad-based problem, this is a black problem or hispanic problem or native american problem. it's true that the painful legacy of discrimination means that african-americans, latinos, native americans are far more likely to suffer from a lack of opportunity. higher unemployment, higher poverty rates. it's also true that women still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. so we're going to need strong application of anti-discrimination laws. we're going to need immigration reform that grows the economy and takes people out of the shadows. we're going to need target initiatives to close those gaps. [ applause ] but here's an opportunity point. the decades-long shifts in the
economy have hurt all groups. poor and middle class, inner city and rural folks, men and women, and americans of all races. and americans of all races. and as a consequence, some of the social patterns that contribute to declining mobility that were once attributed to the urban poor -- you know, that's a particular problem for the inner city. single-parent households or drug abuse. it turns out now we're seeing that pop up everywhere. a new study shows that disparities in education, mental health, obesity, absent fathers, isolation from church, isolation from community groups, these gaps are now as much about growing up rich or poor as they
are anything else. the gap in test scores between poor kids and wealthy kids is now nearly twice what it is between white kids and black kids. kids with working-class parents are ten times likelier to go through a time when their parent have no income. so the fact is this, the opportunity gap in america is now as much about class as it is about race. and that gap is growing. so if we're going to take on growing inequality and try to improve upward mobility for all people, we've got to move forward the false notion that this is an issue exclusively of minority concern. and we have to reject a politics that suggest any effort to address it in a meaningful way somehow pits the interest of a deserving middle class against those of an undeserving poor in search of handouts.
[ applause ] second, we need to dispel the myth that the goals of growing the economy and inequality are in conflict, when they should actually work in conflict. we know from history our economies grows best from the middle out. we know beyond a certain level of inequality, growth actually slows altogether. thirksd we need to set aside the belief that government cannot do anything about reducing inequality. it's true that government cannot prevent all the down sides of the technological change and global competition that are out there right now. and some of those forces are also so much of the things that are helping us grow. and it's also true that some
programs in the past like welfare before it was reformed were sometimes poorly designed, created disincentives to work. but we've also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class. investments in education, laws establishing collective bargaining and a minimum wage. these all contributed to rising standards of living for massive numbers of americans. likewise when previous generations declared that every citizen of this country deserved a basic measure of security, a floor through which they could not fall. we helped millions of americans live in dignity and gave millions more the confidence tos a spire to something better by taking a risk on a great idea. without social security, nearly half of seniors would be living
in poverty. half. today, fewer than one in ten do. before medicare, only half of all seniors had some form of health insurance. today, virtually all do. and because even with strengthened that safety net and extended pro-work and pro-family tax credits, a recent study found that the poverty rate has fallen by 40% since the 1960s. and these endeavors didn't just make us a better country. they reaffirmed we're a great country. so we can make a difference on this. in fact, that's our generation's task, to rebuild america's economic and civic foundation to continue the expansion of an opportunity for this generation and the next generation. and like --
[ applause ] and like nira, i take this personally. i'm only here because this country educated my grandfather on the g.i. bill. when my father left and my mom hit hard times trying to raise my sister and me going to school, this country helped make sure we didn't go hungry. when michelle, the daughter of a shift worker at a water plant and a secretary, wanted to go to college just like me, this country helped us afford it until we could pay it back. so it drives me as a grandson, a son, a father, as an american, to make sure that every striving,heart hard-working, optimistic kid in america has the same incredible chance that this country gave me. [ applause ]
it has been the driving force between everything we've done these past five years, and over the course of the next year and for the rest of my presidency, that's where you should expect my administration to focus all our efforts. [ applause ] now, you'll be pleased to know this is not a state of the union address. and many of the ideas that can make the biggest difference in expanding opportunity i've presented before. but let me offer a few key principles, just a road map i believe should guide us in our legislative agenda and administrative efforts. to begin with, we have to continue to relentlessly push a growth agenda. it may be true that in today's economy, growth alone does not guarantee higher wages and incomes. we've seen that. but what's also true is we can't
tackle inequality if the economic pie is shrinking or stagnant. the fact is, if you're a prerogative and you want to help the middle class and the working poor, you've still got to be concerned about competitiveness and productivity and business confidence that spurs private sector investment. and that's why from day one we've worked to get the economy growing and help our businesses hire. and thanks to their resilience and innovation, they've created nearly 8 million new jobs over the past 44 months. and now we've got to grow the economy even faster. we got to keep working to make america a magnet for good, middle-class jobs to replace the ones we've lost in recent decades. jobs in manufacturing and energy and infrastructure and technology. that means simplifying our corporate tax code in a way that closes wasteful loopholes and ends incentives to ship jobs
overseas. by broadening the base, we can lower rates to encourage more companies to hire here and use some of the money we save to create good jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges and our airports and all the infrastructure our businesses need. it means a trade agenda that grows exports and works for the middle class. it means streamlining regulations that are outdated or unnecessary or too costly. and it means coming together around a responsible budget. one that grows our economy faster right now and shrinks our long-term deficits, one that unwinds the harmful sequester cuts that haven't made a lot of sense. [ applause ] and then frees up resources to invest in things like the scientific research that's always unleashed new innovation and new industries. when it comes to our budget, we should not be stuck in a stale debate from two years ago or three years ago. a relentlessly growing deficit
of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit. [ applause ] so that's step one towards restoring mobility. making sure our economy is growing faster. step two is making sure we empower more americans with the skills and education they need to compete in a highly competitive global economy. we know that education is the most important predictor of income today. so we launched a race to the top in our schools. we're supporting states that have raised standards for teaching and learning. we're pushing for redesigned high schools that graduate more kids with the technical training and apprenticeships and in-demand high-tech skills that can lead to a good job and a middle-class life. we know it's harder to find a job today without some higher
education, so we've helped more students go to college with grants and loans that go farther than before. we've made it more practical to repay those loans and today more students are graduating from college than ever before. we're also pursuing an aggressive strategy to promote innovation that reins in tuition cost. we have a lower cost so young people are not burdened by enormous debt when they make the right decision to get higher education. and next week, michelle and i will bring together college presidents and non-profits to lead a campaign to help more low-income students attend and succeed in college. but -- [ applause ] while higher education may be the surest path to the middle class, it's not the only one. so we should offer our people the best technical education in the world. that's why we've worked to connect local businesses with community colleges so