On the same day he told congressional leaders that he would seek common ground to avert deep budget cuts scheduled to go into effect next year, President Obama met with a roster of civic and civil rights leaders and promised them that he shared their goal of protecting the nation’s middle class and more vulnerable families, several of the leaders said.
Obama and Vice President Biden met with advocates for the poor, the elderly, Hispanics, African Americans, the disabled and young people, among others. Several of them told reporters outside the West Wing after their meeting ended that they were encouraged by Obama’s willingness to listen and his promise that he shares their goals.
The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners also spoke after the meeting: “Deficits are indeed moral issues, and how you resolve them is a moral issue too. You can’t resolve a deficit by increasing poverty. So during this holiday season, we faith leaders are going to reach out as we always do to poor people. But we’re also going to say don’t do things fiscally that make the poor poorer and don’t make our job harder.”
Participants also included Ben Jealous of the NAACP, the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Deepa Iyer of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Barry Rand of AARP, Barry Rand, AARP and Aaron Smith of Young Invincibles, a youth advocacy group.