President Obama appeared today at a Georgetown poverty conference and spoke at length about wealth, race, taxes, the social safety net, and family values. He also made a pretty good joke about Fox News and the urban myth that he is giving away free “Obamaphones” to poor people.
The president’s comments:
There’s always been a strain in American politics where you have the middle class and the question is—who are you mad at if you’re struggling? And I think that the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are undeserving, got traction. And look, it’s still being propagated. And I have to say, if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them! They’ll find folks who say, “I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obamaphone!” Rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress—which is much more typical—who’s raising a couple of kids and working but can’t pay the bills.
(Note: That’s a transcript typed out in real time and edited slightly for clarity, so it may not exactly match the official transcript that will presumably be released.)
There was another good moment earlier on when moderator E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post was asking a question about how to translate public policy ideals into political action.
DIONNE: If John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were watching this—
OBAMA: I assure you they’re not watching this.
It’s funny because it’s probably true.