“Our economy plunged into recession almost three years ago on the heels of a financial meltdown and a rapid decline in housing prices. Last year we saw the depths of the recession, including historic losses in employment not witnessed since the Great Depression. Today, the Census Bureau released data that illustrates just how tough 2009 was: along with rising unemployment, incomes failed to rise for the typical household, the percentage of Americans without health insurance rose to 16.7 percent, and the percentage of Americans living in poverty increased to 14.3 percent.
But the data released today also remind us that a historic recession does not have to translate into historic increases in family economic insecurity. Because of the Recovery Act and many other programs providing tax relief and income support to a majority of working families – and especially those most in need – millions of Americans were kept out of poverty last year.
The substantial expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) helped inoculate our children from the economic distress experienced by their parents, as there was little change in the percentage of children without health insurance. The Affordable Care Act will build on that success by expanding health insurance coverage to more families.
Even before the recession hit, middle class incomes had been stagnant and the number of people living in poverty in America was unacceptably high, and today’s numbers make it clear that our work is just beginning. Our task now is to continue working together to improve our schools, build the skills of our workers, and invest in our nation’s critical infrastructure.
For all of our challenges, I continue to be inspired by the dedication and optimism of America’s workers, and I am confident that we will emerge from this storm with a stronger economy.”
September 16, 2010: Statement by President Obama on Income, Poverty, and Health Coverage Data
"... Finally, the last thing I just want to -- want to point out is on the issue of work and poverty. One of the things that happened after welfare reform was that we made sure that everybody had to work at some point. Unfortunately, we didn't lift them out of poverty. We have got a lot of people who work and are still impoverished. And so we've got to make work pay. That means that we've got to increase the minimum wage. "
June 4, 2007: Sojourners Presidential Forum on Faith, Values, and Poverty, for Democratic presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama), George Washington University.
“Today’s steps build on the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama last February. The ARRA:
• Modernized and Expanded Unemployment Insurance: The recovery act included an unprecedented investment in unemployment benefits, including up to 79 weeks of benefits in the hardest-hit areas, a $25-a-week supplement to benefits, and incentives for states to expand coverage to part-time workers and take other steps to modernize their unemployment systems. The law also cut taxes on up to $2,400 in unemployment benefits and created a tax credit that pays 65 percent of health insurance premiums for unemployed workers. These provisions helped keep 800,000 people out of poverty, according to estimates developed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.”
November 6, 2009; White House Press Release: Fact Sheet: The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009
“And today, I’m announcing our new U.S. Global Development Policy -- the first of its kind by an American administration. It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals. Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.
First, we’re changing how we define development. For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent and the food and medicines that we delivered. But aid alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop -- moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal -- from our diplomacy to our trade policies to our investment policies.
Second, we are changing how we view the ultimate goal of development. Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.
Now, let me be clear, the United States of America has been, and will remain, the global leader in providing assistance. We will not abandon those who depend on us for life-saving help, whether it’s food or medicine. We will keep our promises and honor our commitments.”
September 22, 2010: Remarks at the Millennium Development Goals Summit, United Nations Headquarters, New York