Dec. 4 - U.S. President Barack Obama says a disparity between rich and poor has created a growing gap in opportunity among Americans. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama says a disparity between rich and poor has created a growing gap in opportunity among Americans. "A dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle class America's basic bargain, that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead, I believe this is the defining challenge of our time, making sure our economy works for every working American," Obama said during a speech at a community center in a neighborhood in Southeast Washington that has long been plagued by crime and unemployment. Obama said problems once far more prevalent in depressed urban areas predominantly populated by minorities, such as single parenthood and drug addiction, are now no longer specific to cities or to any race. "The opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race, and that gap is growing. So if we're going to take on growing inequality and try to improve upward mobility for all people, we've got to move beyond the false notion that this is an issue exclusively of minority concern. And we have to reject a politics that suggests any effort to address it in a meaningful way somehow pits the interests of a deserving middle class against those of an undeserving poor in search of handouts," Obama said, prompting applause from the audience. Obama said history proves government programs can help close the gap between classes, and proposed raising the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25, or a full-time salary of about $15,000 a year.