You Don’t Say

FLASHBACK: Obama in 1998: 'I actually believe in redistribution'

• September 18, 2012 3:37 pm


BARACK OBAMA: Let me just close by saying, as we think about the policy research surrounding the issues that I just named—policy research for the working poor, broadly defined—I think that what we’re going to have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all. There is a systematic—I don’t think it’s too strong to call it a propaganda campaign—against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved. The Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policy making, and neither necessarily has the Chicago Public Schools. What that means, then, is that as we try to resuscitate this notion of "We’re all in this thing together, leave nobody behind," we do have to be innovative in thinking—what are the delivery systems that actually effective and meet people where they live? My suggestion, I guess, would be that the trick—and this is one of the few areas where I think there are technical issues that have to be dealt with, as opposed to just political issues—I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure everybody’s got a shot.

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