President Barack Obama greets a young girl during a Thanksgiving service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., Nov. 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
By Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families
On December 4, President Obama gave an important speech about inequality and economic mobility in the United States. The speech included some striking data and references to key studies, and makes a set of arguments for the need to address inequality and mobility:
The President drew on moral arguments, the connection to economic growth, and the relationship to social cohesion and democracy. And, the President said:.
"The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough. But the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care, or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us and it should compel us to action. We are a better country than this."
The President also made clear that addressing these issues would be given significant attention in the rest of this Administration:
"So what drives me as a grandson, a son, a father -- as an American -- is to make sure that every striving, hardworking, optimistic kid in America has the same incredible chance that this country gave me. It has been the driving force between everything we’ve done these past five years. And over the course of the next year, and for the rest of my presidency, that’s where you should expect my administration to focus all our efforts."
In discussing the policy responses to inequality and limited mobility, the speech notes the importance of the Administration's agenda for early childhood education, and the key role played by the Affordable Care Act and the extension of health care coverage to millions of Americans. And, there are multiple other ways in which the work of ACF contributes to efforts to reduce poverty and promote economic mobility and opportunity. We are proud of that work, and in the months to come, we'll welcome the opportunity to explore additional ways in which our programs and initiatives can contribute to these efforts.
Mark Greenberg is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Greenberg serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and as Acting Commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.