President Obama used the foreign policy crises unfolding across the globe as a jumping-off point to promote economic equality policies at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Seattle last night.
He was addressing donors at a private home “under a white tent near a pool, on the lawn of an Italianate style house with a panoramic view of the lake,” according to the White House pool report.
Despite “enormous progress across the board on a whole range of fronts,” he said, “…people are anxious.”
“Now, some of that has to do with some big challenges overseas. I am very proud that we have ended one war, and by the end of this year we will have ended both wars that I inherited before I came into office,” Obama said to applause. “But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria — the devastation that Assad has wrought on his own people; to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise — although we’re trying to see if we can put together a government that actually can function; to ongoing terrorist threats; to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza — part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people.”
“But here in the United States, what people are also concerned about is the fact that although the economy has done well in the aggregate, for the average person it feels as if incomes, wages just haven’t gone up; that people, no matter how hard they work, they feel stuck,” he added. “And that’s not an illusion. Because what’s happened is, is that a lot of our gains, a lot of the progress that’s been made in this economy — and this is like a 20, 25, 30-year trend — have gone to the folks at the very top. And middle-class families find themselves with stagnant incomes, even as the cost of health care or the cost of a college education for their kids keeps on skyrocketing.”
“And part of what people are also anxious about is the fact that government doesn’t seem to be responsive, at least at the federal level, to those concerns.
“We know how to solve some of our big problems. But what we’re going to have to do is break the logjam in Washington. So where I’m able to get Congress to help, I want to work with them. Where I can’t get Congress to help, I’m going to do everything I can on my own. Everything I can on my own. If they don’t want to pass a sensible climate change bill, we’re going to go ahead and put forward a Climate Action Plan and make sure we’re working with the EPA under authorities we already have to reduce carbon,” he said.
“And that’s why these midterm elections are so important. I do not want anybody here to succumb to cynicism. Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice. But in order for us to make hope live, in order for hope to be more than just a slogan, we’ve got to work. We’ve got to work to make sure that members of Congress — whether the Senate or the House of Representatives — are serious about you. And I will say, for all the Democrats around here, I’m not overly partisan.”