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Barack Obama on Families & Children

Democratic incumbent President; IL Senator (2004-2008)


Let's Move partnership: reduce childhood obesity

Our First Lady sets a good example. Michelle's Let's Move partnership with schools, businesses, and local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years--an achievement that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come.

The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments, and are moving this country forward.

Source: 2014 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2014

Pass the Violence Against Women Act

But we can't stop there. We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
Source: 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 12, 2013

Family's unconditional love more important than money

I loved Barack just the way he was, and I didn't want that to change if he became President. Even though back then Barack was a Senator, to me, he was still the guy who'd picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he'd found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.

But when Barack started telling me about his family--that's when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.

You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable--their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.

Source: Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

OpEd: Says families are off-limits; but attacks opponents'

When Sarah Palin's daughter came under attack, Obama magnanimously announced, "I think people's families are off-limits and people's children are especially off-limits." Of course, his media surrogates continued the attacks on Palin's family full bore.

Moreover, if Obama didn't approve of attacks on his opponents' families, that would have been a first for him. In his Senate primary race from Illinois in 2004, Obama was down in the polls, about to lose to Blair Hull, a multi-millionaire securities trader. But then the Chicago Tribune dropped the fact that Hull's ex-wife had sought an order of protection against him during their 1998 divorce proceedings--referring to records that were under seal. There were strong suggestions that the Obama campaign had tipped off the Chicago Tribune. Hull's campaign collapsed. Obama sailed to the front of the pack and won the primary.

Luckily for Obama, his opponent in the general election had also been divorced! [Obama similarly attached Jack Ryan].

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.140-141 , Nov 10, 2009

Help families with paid sick days and better family leave

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Parents provide guidance by turning off TV & video games

If we’re serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families, and our own communities. That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; attending thos parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts with teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; and teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities--and to help our synagogues and churches and community centers feed the hungry and care for the elderly. We all have to do our part to lift up this country.
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention , Jul 12, 2008

Zero-to-Five plan: childcare for working parents

Obama has a detailed plan for early childhood education. His "zero to five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Obama emphasizes early care and education. Obama would like to see states move toward voluntary, universal preschool. Obama would also quadruple funding for early Head Start and increase funding. Finally, he wants to see renewed emphasis on developing high quality child care programs when both parents are at work.
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p. 61 , Jul 1, 2008

Admit that too many fathers are missing from too many homes

Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing--missing from too many lives and too many homes They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.234-5 , Jun 15, 2008

I know what it means to have an absent father

I know what it means to have an absent father, although my circumstances weren’t as tough as they are for many young people today. Even though my father left us when I was two years old, I was luckier than most. I screwed up more often than I should’ve, but I got plenty of second chances. A lot of kids don’t get these chances today. There is no margin for error in their lives.

Still, I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother--how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle--that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock--that foundation--on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.236 , Jun 15, 2008

Reward fathers who pay child support with larger EITC

We should be making it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid them. We should get rid of the financial penalties we impose on married couples right now, and start making sure that every dime of child support goes directly to helping children instead of some bureaucrat. We should reward fathers who pay that child support with job training and job opportunities and a larger Earned Income Tax Credit that can help them pay the bills. We should help new families care for their children by expanding maternity and paternity leave, and we should guarantee every worker more paid sick leave so they can stay home to take care of their child without losing their income.

We should take all of these steps to build a strong foundation for our children. But we should also know that even if we do; even if Washington does its part too, we will still face difficult challenges in our lives.

Source: Chicago church speech, in Change We Can Believe In, p.239 , Jun 15, 2008

Teach both abstinence and contraception to teens

Q: In talking about your own daughters and talking about sex education and contraception, you made the jarring comment that you would not want your daughter “punished with a baby” if she made a mistake. Could you explain what you meant?

A: Keep in mind, on that same day, I said children are miracles. What I was saying was that my daughters are 9 & 6. And so if, at the age of 12 or 13, they made what I would consider to be a mistake, in having unprotected sex, and ended up getting pregnant. And so all I meant was we want to prevent teen pregnancies. And what we don’t want to do is to be blind to the possibility that kids will screw up, just like, surprisingly enough, we as adults screw up sometimes. We want to make sure that, even as we are teaching responsible sexuality and we are teaching abstinence to children, that we are also making sure that they’ve got enough understanding about contraception that they don’t end up having much more severe problems because of a dumb mistake.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Expand flex-work & Family and Medical Leave Act

Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 10-15 , Feb 2, 2008

Parents should control what’s coming over the airwaves

As a parent, I am concerned about what’s coming over the airwaves. Right now, my daughters mostly are on Nickelodeon, but they know how to work that remote. The primary responsibility is for parents. I reject the notion of censorship as an approach to dealing with this problem. It is important for us to make sure we are giving parents the tools they need to monitor what their children are watching. Obviously, the problem we have now is not just what’s coming over the airwaves, but what’s coming over the Internet. So for us to develop technologies and tools and invest in those technologies and tools, to make sure that we are, in fact, empowering parents is important. It is important for those in the industry to show some thought about who they are marketing some of these programs being produced to. I’m concerned about sex and some of the violent, slasher, horror films that come out in the trailers. It is appropriate, in a cooperative way, to work with the industry to try to deal with that problem.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Restore dream of making children’s lives better than parents

Q: A recent report found that middle class black families were not able to carry their children into the American middle class; many had fallen out of the middle class and into poverty. What can the president do?

A: One of the reasons that I’m running for president is that the American dream has always meant that if you worked hard if you invested in your children then their lives could be better than yours. And that dream that so many generations fought for feels like it’s slipping away, not just for African Americans increasingly but for all Americans. And so what do we need to do? We have to have a tax system that’s fair. I will take away tax breaks from company’s that are shipping jobs overseas and put tax breaks in the pockets of hardworking Americans who deserve it. We’ve got to invest in education. If we can invest and understand that this is a crisis that doesn’t just effect black and brown people but all of America I’m confident that we can make a big difference.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum , Dec 1, 2007

All kids should learn about sexual abuse

Q: [to Edwards]: Have you talked to your children about sex?

EDWARDS: Yes, we have taught our children when they were young how to look for the signs of wrong touching, any kind of what would be sexual abuse, inappropriate touching. And we have taught our children as they got older, all that they needed to know to be properly educated.

Q: [to Obama]: Mitt Romney has accused you this week of saying that 5-year-old children should be getting sex education. Was he right?

OBAMA: Ironically, this was actually a proposal that he himself said he supported when he was running for governor of Massachusetts. Apparently, he forgot. And it makes the exact point that John made. I want my daughters, aged 6 & 9, to know if somebody is doing something wrong to them, encroaching on their privacy, that they should come talk to me or my wife. And we’ve had that conversation, and I think it’s important that every child does, to make sure that they’re not subject to the sexual predators.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

FactCheck: ‘Sex Ed for Kindergarten’ means ‘age-appropriate’

Romney had accused Obama of supporting sex education for 5-year-olds. But both are twisting each other’s words.

For several days now, Obama has been dealing with a flap over comments he made to a Planned Parenthood gathering last week. He said that he had once been attacked for advocating “teaching sex education to kindergarteners” as a state senator. And he added, “It’s the right thing to do...to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools.”

Although video of that statement shows Obama stressed the term “age-appropriate,” a news headline read, “Sex Ed for Kindergarteners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama.” Romney seized on the headline and slammed Obama, saying, “Obama is wrong if he thinks science-based sex education has any place in kindergarten.”

The Obama campaign later pointed to a 2004 story in which Obama said he “does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten.”

Source: FactCheck on 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate , Jul 23, 2007

Listening to evangelicals bridges major political fault line

Today, white evangelical Christians are the heart and soul of the Republican Party’s grassroots base. It is their issues-abortion, gay marriage, prayer in schools, intelligent design, Terri Schiavo, the posting of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, home schooling, voucher plans, and the makeup of the Supreme Court-that often dominate the headlines and serve as one of the major fault lines in American politics. The single biggest gap in party affiliation is between those who attend church regularly and those who don’t. Democrats, meanwhile, are scrambling to “get religion,” even as a core segment of our constituency remains stubbornly secular, and fears that the agenda of an assertively Christian nation may not make room for them or their life choices.

The evangelists’ success points to a hunger for the product they are selling, a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.201-2 , Oct 1, 2006

Sponsored bill banning high lead levels in children's toys.

Obama sponsored banning high lead levels in children's toys

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to classify certain children's products containing lead to be banned hazardous substances.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: The unfortunate reality for many children--particularly in low-income and minority households--is the continued presence of high blood lead levels. Lead is a highly toxic substance that can produce a range of health problems in young children, including IQ deficiencies, hyperactivity, and damage to the kidneys, brain and bone marrow.

We know that lead poisoning is completely preventable. As the Nation has increased efforts to reduce environmental lead exposure, the number of children with high blood levels has steadily dropped. Restricting lead in gasoline and paint represent two major accomplishments in this regard. But much work remains to be done.

Disturbingly, lead is present in a number of toys and other frequently used objects by young children. About half of tested lunch boxes have unsafe levels of lead. In 2004, there were 3 recalls of nearly 150 million pieces of toy jewelry because of toxic levels of lead. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission has dragged its feet in aggressively addressing the problem of lead in toys.

It's a national disgrace that toys that could pose a serious and significant danger to children are readily available in our department stores and markets. The Lead Free Toys Act of 2005 will help us keep our children safe and healthy, and contribute to national efforts to reduce lead exposure.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; never came to a vote.

Source: Lead Free Toys Act (S.2048/H.R.668) 05-S2048 on Nov 17, 2005

Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth.

Obama co-sponsored calling for a White House Conference on Children and Youth

The White House Conference on Children and Youth in 2010 Act - Directs the President to call a White House Conference on Children and Youth in 2010 to: (1) encourage improvements in each state and local child welfare system; and (2) develop recommendations for actions to implement express policy regarding federal, state, and local programs. The Congress finds the following:

  1. In 2005 there were over 3,000,000 reports of child abuse and neglect, and only 60% of the children from the substantiated reports received follow-up services and 20% were placed in foster care as a result of an investigation.
  2. Almost 500,000 children and youth were in foster care at the end of 2004 and nearly 800,000 spent at least some time in foster care throughout the year.
  3. There is an over-representation of certain populations, including Native Americans and African-Americans, in the child welfare system.
  4. The State courts make key decisions in the lives of children involved in the child welfare system, including decisions of whether children have been victims of child abuse, whether parental rights should be terminated, and whether children should be reunified with their families, adopted, or placed in other settings.
Source: Conference on Children and Youth in 2010 Act (S2771/HR5461) 08-S2771 on Mar 13, 2008

Other candidates on Families & Children: Barack Obama on other issues:
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Page last updated: Sep 19, 2014