Goldman Sachs gave him plenty of$
resident Barack Obama traveled to Flint, Michigan to talk to city leaders and residents about the city’s water contamination crisis. He said a “corrosive attitude in our politics” is partly to blame. (May 4) AP
WASHINGTON — Visiting a Michigan city where thousands of children were poisoned by lead in their drinking water, President Obama blamed the crisis in Flint on a mindset that “less government is the highest good,” which he said has led to disinvestment in poor communities.
In a speech to a restless audience at a high school gymnasium, Obama also urged parents of those children to get them tested — but also to have faith in their resilience and not to use the poisoned water as an excuse not to expect great things from them.”That attitude is just as corrosive to democracy as that stuff that put lead in your water,” he said. “It’s not enough to fix the water. We need to fix the culture of neglect.”
Obama’s visit to the eastern Michigan city of 100,000 people came three months after he declared a state of emergency to help the city deal with the fallout from a drinking water crisis. In addition to the poisoning from corroding lead pipes, the switch to under-treated water from the Flint River in 2014 is suspected in the deaths of 10 people from Legionnaires’ disease.
But Obama reassured Flint residents that the water is safe now — as long as it’s properly filtered.
“I really did need a glass of water. This is not a stunt,” he said as he asked for water during a bout of coughing. “If you’re using a filter, if you’re installing it, then Flint water at this point is drinkable.”
Obama didn’t assign any specific blame for the water crisis, which has already led to the indictments of three water officials. Obama said only that “some very poor decisions were made.”
“This was a man-made disaster. This was avoidable. This was preventable,” he said. “I do not believe that anybody consciously wanted to hurt the people of flint, and this is not the place to sort out every screw-up that resulted in contaminated water.”
He said the good news is that the Americans from all over the country have rallied around Flint, and the federal response is now in full swing. The president promised free water and filters, expanded Medicaid to treat children who may have been exposed, and job training programs.
“I came here to tell you directly that I see you, I hear you, and I want to hear directly from you about how this public health crisis has affected your lives,” he said. “I know you’re scared. A lot of you feel let down. I also came here to tell you that I’ve got your back.”
Even as he spoke directly to the people of Flint, Obama said he hoped to use that city to spark a “national conversation” about what he called a “pipeline of neglect” in American cities.
“The problems of water were a symptom of a broader issue, and that is a city that had lost a lot of resources, lost a lot of its tax base, was cutting a lot of services, and increasingly, didn’t have capacity,” he said at the end of a meeting with state and federal officials.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder greeted Air Force One at Bishop International Airport in Flint, ending days of speculation about whether the governor would participate. He was later booed by Flint residents as he tried to apologize for the state’s handling of the crisis.
When the crowd booed Snyder again as Obama recognized him, Obama calmed the crowd: “No, no, no, he’s here. We’re doing some business here.”
Also on board Air Force One for the half-day visit: Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.
Reposted from USA Today