Campaign 2012: President Obama's Comments at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy

Yes, I am late on a topic again. Life has come calling quite a bit recently. However, I did want to take a brief moment to address President Obama's recent comments to the White House's Council on Women and Girls at a forum established to address the 'critical role women play in driving our economic progress.' A full transcript of the President's comments can be found here.

While addressing the role of women in the economy is of course a worthy endeavour in itself, I nonetheless thought that the more striking takeaway from this event was the continuance of the President's shift to full-on campaign mode. Among the more pertinent examples of this follow:

Right now, no issue is more important than restoring economic security for all our families in the wake of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. And that begins with making sure everyone who wants a job has one. So we welcome today’s news -- (applause) -- we welcome today’s news that our businesses created another 121,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate ticked down. Our economy has now created more than 4 million private sector jobs over the past two years, and more than 600,000 in the past three months alone. But it’s clear to every American that there will still be ups and downs along the way, and that we’ve got a lot more work to do. 

When my mom needed help with us, my grandmother stepped up. My grandmother had a high school education. My grandfather got to go to college on the G.I. Bill; my grandmother wasn't afforded those same opportunities even though she had worked on an assembly line, a bomber assembly line in World War II. Nevertheless, she got a job at a local bank, and she was smart and tough and disciplined, and she worked hard. And eventually she rose from being a secretary to being vice president at this bank, and I’m convinced she would have been the best president that bank had ever seen, if she had gotten the chance. But at some point she hit the glass ceiling, and for a big chunk of her career, she watched other men that she had trained -- younger men that she had trained -- pass her up that ladder.

Now, think about it. When women make less than men for the same work, that hurts families who have to get by with less and businesses who have fewer customers with less to spend. When a job doesn’t offer family leave to care for a new baby or sick leave to care for an ailing parent, that burdens men as well. When an insurance plan denies women coverage because of preexisting conditions, that puts a strain on emergency rooms and drives up costs of care for everybody. When any of our citizens can’t fulfill the potential that they have because of factors that have nothing to do with talent, or character, or work ethic, that diminishes us all. It holds all of us back. And it says something about who we are as Americans.

More women are also choosing to strike out on their own. Today, nearly 30 percent of small business owners are women. Their businesses generate $1.2 trillion last year. But they’re less likely to get the loans that they need to start up, or expand or to hire -- which means they often have to depend on credit cards and the mounting debt that comes with them. And that’s why, through some outstanding work by Karen Mills and the SBA and other parts of our administration, we’ve extended more than 16,000 new loans worth $4.5 billion to women-owned businesses -- (applause) -- not to mention cut taxes for small businesses 17 times, so that more women have the power to create more jobs and more opportunity.

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