President Obama has been keeping the media spotlight on the plight of the poor in the U.S. over the last few weeks, and he again focused on the theme of income inequality at a panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University in Washington on Tuesday. He did not pull any punches in his call for higher taxes on the wealthy. Obama specifically mentioned hedge fund managers in his remarks, calling them society’s lottery winners, and saying it was only fair that they pay a larger share of taxes.
The president also called for bipartisan legislation to address the growing problem of inequality at the meeting of faith leaders, but expressed skepticism that anything meaningful would happen.
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Obama says conservatives do care about the poor
In his remarks, Obama said he believed that conservatives did care about the poor.
However, in the wide-ranging discussion with a liberal professor and a conservative economist, Obama decried the ongoing refusal by Republicans to put their concerns about the poor into practice.
“Talk to any of my Republican friends,” the president told several hundred people attending the school’s poverty conference. “They will say, No. 1, they care about the poor — and I believe them. But when it comes to actually establishing budgets, making choices, prioritizing, that’s when it starts breaking down.”
Obama took a swing at “lottery winner” hedge fund managers
President Obama also pointed out that the top earning 25 hedge fund managers make more than all of the kindergarten teachers in the entire country. He continued to say that hedge fund managers were not evil people, but that Republicans should be willing to tax wealthy fund managers at the same rate as they do kindergarten teachers’.
“If we can’t ask from society’s lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really, this conversation is for show,” Mr. Obama said. He added later, “If we can’t bridge that gap, I suspect we are not going to make as much progress as we need to.”