Bigger Government Will Fix It, Obama Tells Billionaires

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Americans are worried about the future because the federal government isn’t spending enough money, President Barack Obama told a party of donors gathered at a billionaire’s estate in La Jolla, Calif.

“If we do the things that we need to do, if we make the investments we need to make, then the 21st century is going to be the American Century … and if we don’t, then the anxieties of so many Americans are going to be justified,” Obama told the assembled donors, including the host, Irwin Jacobs, the founder of Qualcomm.

The claim came on the second day of Obama’s three-day fundraising tour in California.

But Obama’s assertion that Americans want him to double down on big government program is contradicted by recent polls, including an April survey by the Pew Research Center and USA Today.

The survey showed that 65 percent of voters “would like to see the next president offer different policies and programs from the Obama administration while 30% want Obama’s successor to offer similar policies.”

But Obama insisted that bigger government is the answer.

Bigger government is needed because industry has failed to share the wealth, he told the assembled entrepreneurs and industry heads. “For a couple of decades now, even when we’re growing, even when corporate profits are soaring, incomes, wages have not gone up,” said Obama.

“For most of us in this room who have done extraordinarily well, we’ve done even better during these periods,” he added.

So Obama called for bigger donations from the wealthy to grow even bigger government. “I am going to need everybody here to feel the same sense of urgency as so many of you showed when I was running in 2008 and 2012. … I’m going to need you to go out there and talk to your friends and neighbors and your coworkers,” he said.

Those wealthy donors, however, have much to celebrate from Obama’s policies.

Under Obama, employees’ share of the nation’s annual income has fallen to the lowest level in 63 years, and companies’ profits have reached an after-tax, 85-year record level in 2012.

This shift in wealth from wages to profits has coincided with a dramatic increase in the labor supply, principally through large-scale legal and illegal immigration, and the use of guest workers. For example, the host of fundraiser, Jacobs, made his fortune by founding the telecommunications firm Qualcomm, whose profits have been goosed by its use of university-trained guest workers.

Jacobs’ companies have requested federal approval to import more than 7,000 foreign professionals for long-term jobs sought by American graduates. Usually, roughly half of the industry’s requests are automatically approved.

Jacobs, however, has been a major Obama donor, and Obama acknowledged his debt to the billionaire.

“Well, first of all, let me just say thank you to Irwin and Joan and the whole Jacobs family. They have been great friends for, as Irwin noted, a very long time. Part of the reason why it is so wonderful to see Irwin and Joan, whether it’s in Washington or here, is their story embodies America… being here with them today reminds me of what it is that makes America so special. And so we’re very grateful to them,” he said, adding “and they’ve got some really good-looking grandkids.”

Obama also repeated his support for the push by Jacobs and most industry leaders for increased use of foreign workers. “We’re a nation of immigrants and that’s what makes this country so special,” he said.

“The majority of American people think we should reform a broken immigration system that can help reduce our deficits, create more growth [and] create more innovation,” Obama claimed, despite polls showing broad opposition to the Senate’s plan to offer work permits to 40 million immigrants and guest workers over the next decade.

“Republicans, so far, at least, haven’t been willing to step up,” he lamented. “House Republicans have stubbornly refused to even allow a vote on the [immigration increase] issue,” he said.

This week, Obama’s deputies announced plans to increase the number of guest-workers in the United States by 100,000.

Polls show that increased immigration is unpopular, and that companies’ use of guest workers is very unpopular.

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