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Obama: "It's OK to live in poverty if you work part-time"

I lied, kinda. What Obama actually said was: "Nobody who works full-time should have to live in poverty." So, show me some other interpretation for what "should" happen with part-timers, eh?

Have I mentioned lately what an asshole Obama is?

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Peter L.'s picture
Submitted by Peter L. on

This reminds me of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's description of itself, when it is given underwriting credit on NPR. The foundation is dedicated to ensuring all people have opportunity to have (something to the effect of) a decent life. Thus, presumably not dedicated to making sure everyone has a decent life, and exactly how much opportunity is not specified. I suppose opening a casino would fit the bill.

However, I think it worth noting that Obama is using language that is highly popular. In Ben Page and Lawrence Jacob's 2010 book, Class War, they cite a survey result that indicates 66% of republicans "Favor having the government set the minimum wage high enough so that no family with a full time worker falls below the official poverty line." For all Americans the total rises to 76%. (Page 62.)

So my guess is that if the same question was asked about part time work, the numbers would fall, but not to zero. Whatever Obama meant, I think it is very possible that, in fact, many Americans would not interpret his statement to mean that people who work part time should not be protected from living in poverty.

On the other hand, I suppose he could have simply said, "no one should live in poverty."

tom allen's picture
Submitted by tom allen on

Obama parses his words even more carefully than Bill Clinton did. It's safe to assume he meant precisely what he said, no more, no less -- and that he ran them past several focus groups beforehand to find the optimal phrasing.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

And that is the reason this "lingo" is so toxic--many Americans won't discern the difference!

Handsome avatar!


Peter L.'s picture
Submitted by Peter L. on

Is there an almost paradox to politician-speak? That is, it often seems to be designed to be as empty of content as possible, yet, it is constructed carefully to make sure it doesn't mean the "wrong" thing.

Thanks re: the picture. He's my best friend, and a great (big) walking advertisement for the shelter from which we adopted him.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

From the DLC's Year 2000 "Key" Document:

"The Hyde Park Declaration: A Statement of Principles and a Policy Agenda for the 21st Century"

We believe in a new social compact that requires and rewards work in exchange for public assistance and that ensures that no family with a full-time worker will live in poverty.

PBO was savvy enough to "quit" the DLC (per Black Agenda Report) while he was still an Illinois State Senator. I suppose to give him the bona fides to run left of corporatist/DLC Dems.

However, he IS the same as the Clintons and the rest of the Democratic Party DLC/Third Way/No Labels crowd.

[IOW, Joe Lieberman, Joe Manchin, Mark Warner, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, Brian Schweitzer, Martin O'Malley, Blanche Lincoln, Jon Tester, Mark Udall, and on, and on, and on, LOL!]

Just without 'the label.'


Submitted by lambert on

It's too bad we can't throw that document against the totality of Democratic speeches for the last decade or so and get some visual representation of the overlap; I bet it's considerable.

Submitted by hipparchia on

PBO was savvy enough to "quit" the DLC

the black commentator, quoting Obama:

You are undoubtedly correct that these positions make me an unlikely candidate for membership in the DLC. That is why I am not currently, nor have I ever been, a member of the DLC. As I stated in my previous letter, I agreed to be listed as “100 to watch” by the DLC. That’s been the extent of my contact with them. It does appear that, without my knowledge, the DLC also listed me in their “New Democrat” directory. Because I agree that such a directory implies membership, I will be calling the DLC to have my name removed, and appreciate your having brought this fact to my attention.

of course, if you read through that entire article, and the links at the end, he does already appear to be "centrist" enough to deserve the label "new democrat" whether he likes it or not.

Submitted by Hugh on

If we define work as making beneficial contributions to our society, then our rich and elites, including those in our political classes like Obama, do not work.

As Peter notes above, "opportunity" is one of those words which seeks to hide the class war being waged against us. If you buy a lottery ticket, you have the "opportunity" to become a multi-millionaire, but the odds of this are so small that you might as well say this is never going to happen. "Opportunity" is a favorite Obama-ism. When you hear it in relation to something, treat it as multiplication by zero. If Obama says we need to increase opportunities to join the middle class, he is saying you are not going to join the middle class. "Opportunity" can also be used by itself, as in the generic "We need to increase opportunity." This is like saying we need to increase zero by multiplying it by whatever number makes you feel good. It is a completely vacuous statement.

What is poverty? What is not poverty? The federal poverty line is a made-up number. Unlike many of the other fictional numbers our government snows us with, like the official U-3 unemployment rate, which are based on dubious models and do not measure what they purport to measure, the federal poverty line corresponds to exactly nothing. It has no theoretical underpinnings. It's just a number that appeared decades ago and except for inflation indexing continues on today. Heck, even the Census when it cites the Federal Poverty Line will have a note admitting that it corresponds to nothing in reality. For me, not poverty is a set of assurances. The assurances of comfortable housing, a steady supply of nutritious food, good healthcare, good education, good retirements, minimal debt, a good and stable job doing meaningful work paying a living wage for any who want it. These are the things that not poverty means to me. Paying somebody $10.10 an hour for some shit job which is the real Obama position doesn't begin to cut it. But after so many years of candidate and then President Obama, I think most of us knew that.

Peter L.'s picture
Submitted by Peter L. on

From "The Remarkable Rocket," a children's story by Oscar Wilde: "For the next three days everybody went about saying, 'White rose, Red rose, Red rose, White rose;' and the King gave orders that the Page's salary was to be doubled. As he received no salary at all this was not of much use to him, but it was considered a great honour, and was duly published in the Court Gazette."

(Thanks to google, I barely need a memory or library, see: