—Originally posted on POLITICO 44 and authored by Josh Gerstein, White House reporter for POLITCO–
President Barack Obama, who has drawn criticism from liberals for paying too little attention to poverty in his public rhetoric, made more mention of the subject Monday in his second inaugural address.
“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own,” Obama declared Monday.
Obama also invoked the poor when he referred to specifically to several social programs, including Social Security. “We remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn,” he said.
Monday’s speech included three references to poverty, as compared with just one in 2009. The third mention, like the sole mention last time around, came during a discussion of America’s relationship with the world.
“We must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice,” Obama said Monday.
In his 2009 inaugural speech, his discussion of poverty was exclusively in the context of foreign aid “To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds,” Obama said then.
During his first term in office, Obama rarely used the terms “poor” or “poverty,” preferring to talk about strengthening the middle class. However, he sometimes used more circuitous language, such as praising those “struggling” or “working hard” to get into the middle class.