Economic inequality and poverty have grown for the last few decades. The solution? Even more federal spending, more federal regulations, more poor immigrants and more progressive government, President Barack Obama told supporters on Wednesday.
“That’s our generation’s task, to rebuild America’s economic and civic foundation to continue the expansion of opportunity for this generation and the next generation,” said Obama, whose poll ratings have fallen under 40 percent, amid low growth, high unemployment, growing public distrust and increasing worry about his Obamacare overhaul.
Obama’s presentation sounded unchanged from 2008, and he didn’t acknowledge that he and his allies have controlled the agenda in Washington since 2006. Nor did he recognize any of the conservatives’ well-publicized policy and civic recommendations.
Obama reiterated his support for a federal minimum wage, for federal preschool, for Obamacare and many other progressive priorities.
“It’s well past the time to raise a minimum wage… I’m going to keep pushing until we get a higher minimum wage for hardworking Americans across the entire country,” he told an audience hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress.
Obama also consistently downplayed the role of individuals, intact families, Christian churches, civic groups and companies that want govern themselves independently of a progressive-run government in Washington, D.C.
For example, Obama sidelined the role of families in child development, while boosting the role for government-funded professionals. “The idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or healthcare or a community that views her future as their own — that should offend all of us,” he said.
Obama rhetorically drafted individuals, families and civic groups to work for progressives. ”Turning back rising inequality and expanding opportunity requires parents taking responsibility for their kids… requires religious leaders who mobilize their congregations to rebuild neighborhoods block by block, requires civic organizations that can help train the unemployed, link them with businesses for the jobs of the future [and] it requires companies and CEOs to set an example by providing decent wages and salaries and benefits for their workers,” he said.
He even press-ganged the pope into his cause. “Some of you may have seen just last week, the pope himself spoke about [poverty] at eloquent length. How could 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?” said Obama, who has repeatedly sided with progressives against the Catholic Church in disputes over religious freedom. (RELATED: Obamacare contraception mandate takes effect)
Obama did not mention that federal spending on schools, neighborhood revitalization and job training have dramatically increased over the last few decades, that federal regulation and income inequality has sharply grown since his 2009 inauguration and that the nation has accepted roughly 1 million immigrants per year for more than a decade.
Obama professed his faith in more government amid news reports that his takeover of the nation’s healthcare sector is crashing, and unemployment remains so high that roughly 20 million working-age people don’t have jobs.
He repeatedly complained about declining public trust and shrinking social cohesion, even though many studies show those problems are worsened by progressives’ determination to increase social diversity via greater immigration of Chechens and Somalis, low-skill Latinos, high-performing Asians and self-segregating Muslims.
“We’re going to need immigration reform that grows the economy and takes people out of the shadows,” said Obama, who has backed a bill passed by the Senate in June, which would triple legal immigration to 30 million during the next decade.
The U.S. has had a policy of high immigration for the last few decades, so it is not clear why another increase in immigration will improve life for Americans.
For example, roughly 1.3 million fewer native-born Americans have jobs in mid-2013 than had jobs in 2000, even though their working-age population has grown by 16.4 million, according to a July analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies. In contrast, 5.3 million new immigrants have won jobs since 2000, while the nation’s working-age immigrant population has grown by 8.8 million, said the report.
Obama also complained that rising inequality help wealthy Americans to sway government in their favor.
But Obama’s effort to boost immigration is largely being funded by a series of wealthy foundations and billionaires, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates.
Throughout the speech, he suggested that GOP legislators and conservative activists oppose any role for government in society.
“We need to set aside the belief that government cannot do anything about reducing inequality,” he said. ”It’s not enough anymore to just say we should get our government out of the way and let the unfettered market take care of it.”
“If Republicans have concrete plans that will actually reduce inequality, build the middle class, provide moral ladders of opportunity to the poor, let’s hear them,” said Obama, who ignored the myriad studies, proposals and bills developed by conservatives as alternatives to his policies.