Elections

Full audio of 1998 ‘redistribution’ speech: Obama saw welfare recipients as ‘majority coalition’

The Daily Caller has obtained a complete audio recording of the October 19, 1998 Loyola College forum on community organizing and policymaking during which a future President Barack Obama said he favored the government redistribution of wealth. The audio demonstrates the context of that remark and reveals other far-left positions that Obama held as a state senator.

Those positions encompass issues as wide-ranging as gun control, universal health care and welfare reform. Obama also said he viewed welfare recipients and “the working poor” as “a majority coalition” that could be mobilized to help advance progressive policies and elect their champions.

Last week the liberal Mother Jones magazine published video footage, shot during a campaign event, showing Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney opining that 47 percent of Americans are captive Democratic voters because they receive government benefits without paying income taxes. (RELATED: Romney controversy points to power of viral video)

Loyola College refused repeated requests from TheDC for a copy of the full one-hour and 42-minute videotape from 1998. But a source in Chicago who gained permission to view it recorded the sound secretly, confirming the accuracy of — and expanding on — initial accounts that featured only a brief audio excerpt.

“I actually believe in [wealth] redistribution,” Obama said in that 96-second excerpt, published September 18 on YouTube. “At least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”

The following day, NBC News said it had obtained what it called “the entirety of the relevant remarks,” and complained that Republicans had taken the original lines out of context.

NBC published only 35 seconds of video, however, more than half of which overlapped with the YouTube audio from a day earlier. The news agency claimed the full context demonstrated that Obama only “seems” to support “redistributing wealth.” (RELATED: 1998 audiotape surfaces: Obama urged “trick” to aid wealth redistribution)

“How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities?” Obama asked in the seconds NBC added to the national discussion.

But Obama’s voice is heard during more than 29 minutes of the recording, including his prepared remarks and his answers to questions from the audience. At one point on the tape he suggests that the “working poor” on welfare are a political voting bloc that can be harnessed.

Obama is also heard lamenting Americans’ distrust of “government action”; identifying his political opponents — that is, Republicans — as “the bad guys”; declaring his support for labor unions and community organizers; endorsing the public financing of political campaigns; and staking out liberal positions on gun control, government-run health care and welfare reform.

Many of those positions, he conceded, had “no chance of seeing the light of day in Springfield” — the Illinois state capital — “or in Washington.”

It’s unclear if NBC News had a complete recorded copy including Obama’s unedited remarks.

Listen to the complete 102-minute session:

 

“I think that what we’re gonna have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all,” he told an audience that reportedly consisted of some 400 people. “There has been a systematic — I don’t think it’s too strong to call it a propaganda campaign — against the possibility of government action and its efficacy,” he said.

“And I think some of it has been deserved. The Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policymaking. And neither, necessarily, has been the Chicago public schools.”

“What that means, then is that as we try to resuscitate this notion that we’re all in this thing together — ‘leave nobody behind’ — we do have to be innovative in thinking.’What are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live?’” he said.

It was at this point that Obama launched into his now-famous line about constructing government systems that redistribute wealth.

The full recording reveals that Obama saw welfare recipients and the working poor in Chicago as a “majority coalition” who could be leveraged politically. (RELATED: Pat Buchanan: “Fabian socialist” Obama “is a drug dealer of welfare”)

“What I think will re-engage people in politics is if we’re doing significant, serious policy work around what I will label the ‘working poor,’” he said, “although my definition of the working poor is not simply folks making minimum wage, but it’s also families of four who are making $30,000 a year.”

“They are struggling. And to the extent that we are doing research figuring out what kinds of government action would successfully make their lives better, we are then putting together a potential majority coalition to move those agendas forward.”