Former President Barack Obama called the Haitian migrant situation at the southern border ‘heartbreaking’ and a ‘painful reminder’ of the immigration reform that eluded his presidency.
He said he believes comprehensive reform is needed to fix ‘a system that, overall, is dysfunctional.’
ABC News’ Robin Roberts talked to him on Good Morning America about a number of political issues, including the visuals of Haitian migrants being rounded up by American border patrol.
‘Unfortunately, comprehensive immigration reform has consistently gotten stuck, partly because we can’t get enough Republicans to support it,’ Obama said, addressing the policy angle first. ‘What happens at the Texas border is a painful reminder that we don’t have this right yet,’ he said, before referring to the images as ‘heartbreaking.’
Former President Barack Obama said in an interview with Good Morning America that he should be the among the Americans whose taxes go up to pay for President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget bill that is being debated on Capitol Hill
“I think anybody who pretends that it’s a hardship for billionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes so that a single mom gets childcare support … that’s an argument that is unsustainable.” — @BarackObama on Pres. Biden’s $3.5T Build Back Better infrastructure agenda. pic.twitter.com/L5jVYF4w65
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 28, 2021
‘And it is, I think, one of those situation in which if you have a system that overall has been dysfunctional, you are going to get episodes in which what’s happening right in front of you is something that nobody wants,’ Obama continued.
‘As big-hearted as he is, nobody understands that better than Joe Biden,’ Obama added. ‘And the question is now: Are we gonna get serious about dealing with this problem in a systemic way, as opposed to these one-offs where we’re constantly reacting to emergencies? And I think that that’s something that every American should wanna put an end to.’
President Biden has promised to undo former President Trump’s ‘inhumane’ immigration policy, and is now faced with compounding crises at the southern border, where nearly 17,000 were camped outside Del Rio, Texas last week waiting to get into the US and tens of thousands more are reportedly on the way.
Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas said that 12,400 have been released into the US, ad another 5,000 are still being processed. He said that 4,000 had been flown back to Haiti under Title 42, a coronavirus public health order.
Any shot at immigration reform will need to be bipartisan, as Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled last week that Democrats could not include legislation for a pathway to citizenship in their budget reconciliation bill. Policies not pushed through reconciliation need to win the votes of 10 Republicans to be passed in the split 50-50 Senate.
Migrants take shelter as they wait to be processed near the Del Rio International Bridge after crossing the Rio Grande earlier this month. Obama said what was happening at the Texas border was a ‘painful reminder that we don’t have this right yet’
An agent is seen grabbing a migrant by the shirt in a photo taken near the border Sunday
So far this year, about 19,000 Haitian migrants have requested asylum in Mexico
They were seen moving across a yellow string across the river, with some holding children and supplies above their heads
Obama also said he should be the among the Americans whose taxes go up to pay for President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget bill that is being debated on Capitol Hill.
‘They can afford it, we can afford it – I put myself in this category now,’ Obama said Tuesday on Good Morning America. ‘And I think anybody who pretends that it’s a hardship for billionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes so that a single mom gets childcare support or so that we’re doing something about climate change for the next generation, that’s an argument that’s unsustainable.’
Obama spoke to GMA in advance of the groundbreaking of his Obama Presidential Center in the Jackson Park neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side.
While Obama was less optimistic about an immigration bill getting through Congress, he did believe Biden would be successful getting the $3.5 trillion budget bill passed.
‘I believe that it will get done,’ Obama said. ‘It will be messy – it’s always messy to get big, serious legislation done.’
Obama argued that the legislation is something ‘America desperately needs.’
‘When you look at the overall package, it’s got a headline pricetag of $3.5 trillion. But that’s not a single year, this is spread out over a number of years,’ he said. ‘And most importantly, it’s paid for by asking the wealthiest of Americans to pay a few percentage points more in taxes in order to make sure we have an economy that’s fair for everybody.’
He then pointed out he was among the rich.
Business Insider estimated he was worth at least $70 million in December.
He added, ‘As far as Democrats are concerned, I think that President Biden is handling it exactly right.’
Biden could get the $3.5 trillion bill through with Democratic votes alone, but moderates have balked at the pricetag, and progressives are holding up another key Biden bill – bipartisan infrastructure legislation – in order to get the larger bill passed.
All the while, a government shutdown is looming if Congress doesn’t pass a stop gap funding bill by the end of the month.
Migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. take shelter in a make-shift migrant camp near the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S
In a pre-released clip from the interview Monday, Obama dismissed criticism the planned presidential center would destroy a historic park and displace black residents from Chicago’s south side due to gentrification.
The nation’s first black president told ABC News that he is ‘absolutely confident’ the Obama Presidential Center in the old Jackson Park section of the city’s South Side will benefit the community.
‘The truth is, any time you do a big project, unless you’re in the middle of a field somewhere, you know, and it’s on private property, there’s always going to be some people who say, ‘Well, but we don’t want change. We’re worried about it. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Obama said.
‘Which is why we’ve gone through such an exhaustive process to encourage and elicit comments and concerns and criticism and suggestions from the community.’
Some critics, however, have dismissed the Obama Presidential Center as an out-of-touch ego trip.
Obama’s visit to Chicago this week comes less than two months after the ex-president generated controversy by hosting a 60th birthday party at his massive home on Martha’s Vineyard at the height of the COVID-19 Delta surge.
Obama’s presidential center will move another step closer to its brick-and-mortar future Tuesday when ground is broken after years of reviews, other delays and continued local opposition.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, will join Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago on Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center.
‘Michelle and I could not be more excited to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center in the community that we love,’ the former president said, seated beside his wife, in a video announcement shared first with The Associated Press.
The former president in 2016 chose a site in Jackson Park, a historic lakefront landmark, to build his presidential library, near where he began his political career, met and married his wife and lived with their family.
‘Just about everything that’s important to me in my life started here,’ he told Good Morning America.
The former first lady grew up on Chicago’s South Side.
But the planning process hit numerous snags due to a legal battle with park preservationists and protests from neighborhood activists who feared the planned $500million center would displace black residents.
Obama told Good Morning America: ‘The overwhelming majority of the community has been not just OK with it, but are hugely enthusiastic about it.’
The new center will include a library, museum, gardens and a playground.
Obama and supporters of the center say it will attract investment and jobs to the community, but opponents fear that it will lead to increased gentrification that will eventually displace low-income residents of color.
Chicago’s City Council has since approved neighborhood protections, and a four-year federal review process that was needed because of its location in Jackson Park – which is on the National Register of Historic Places – was recently completed.
It determined that the presidential center posed ‘no significant impact to the human environment.’
But Protect Our Parks, a nonprofit park preservationist organization, filed a lawsuit in April challenging the legality of the federal review.
The group argued that the planned center ‘will tear up this Frederick Law Olmsted masterpiece.’ It claimed that the plans call for removing trees, tearing down the Women’s Garden, and a closure of roadways.
The new center, whose construction will be estimated at $500million, will include a library, museum, gardens, and a children’s playground. The above image is an artist rendering of the Obama Presidential Center. It was released in May 2017
Last month, the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal filed by the group seeking to stop construction.
Protect Our Parks released a statement on Monday saying that ‘the homecoming of the former President and the First Lady should be a moment of pride for Chicagoans.
‘On this visit, though, we hope they will mourn the devastation of the initial clear-cutting of the mature trees and the destruction of the Women’s Garden in Jackson Park, in addition to the long-term environmental and public health dangers that will ensue.’
‘Unfortunately, hosting a series of virtual groundbreakings will not change the facts of the case or the long-term adverse effects on the community,’ the statement said.
‘On the contrary, it would take one decision by Mr. and Mrs. Obama to relocate the OPC site to the adjacent area close to Washington Park.’
Officials announced in February that construction would begin this year, starting with the relocation of utility lines followed by actual construction.
‘This project has reminded us why the South Side and the people who live here are so special,’ the former first lady said in the video, adding that the effort has reaffirmed for her and her husband that the future on the South Side of Chicago ‘is as bright as it is anywhere.’
Environmental and community activists have been vocal in their criticism of plans to build Obama’s presidential center in Jackson Park (above), a historic landmark
Obama has described the center as a hub for youth programming and public gatherings that will jumpstart the economy on the city’s South Side, parts of which are impoverished, by bringing attention, jobs and visitors.
Foundation officials estimate the center will help create about 5,000 jobs, both during and after construction.
Obama was blasted for setting a bad example and being out of touch last month over his lavish 60th birthday bash.
Hundreds of guests, including Hollywood stars, attended the party on August 7, flying in from around the country and congregating under tents where partiers danced, ate and drank the night away on his estate in Edgartown.
The lavish event was held at a time when Martha’s Vineyard was already experiencing a new surge in cases.
Initially, Obama prepared to welcome 500 guests to his mansion. But he then announced his party would be ‘scaled back’ amid criticism as the Delta coronavirus variant spread across the country.
But despite the ex-president’s insistence that he had disinvited everyone but his family and close friends, 300 to 400 people showed up to his party, everyone from Jay Z and Beyoncé to Chrissy Teigen and John Legend.
Many of the guests flew in by private jet and stayed in Edgartown, the center of the island’s COVID resurgence.
During the festivities, many guests were seen without masks or other face coverings.
A ‘coronavirus coordinator’ was hired to make sure the party was compliant with the most recent CDC guidance.
Attendees were required to take tests and submit their results to gain entry to the compound.
REVEALED: Biden’s $3.5T budget has $3B for ‘tree equity’ and huge investments in bias training, tax enforcement and ‘high-performance green buildings’
Newly released details of Democrats’ massive spending plans include $3 billion for ‘tree equity,’ $12 billion for electric cars, $1 billion more to turn government facilities into ‘high-performance green buildings’ and millions more for gender identity and bias training.
The text of the Build Back Better Act, released by Democrats on the House Budget Committee on Saturday, for the first time reveals how President Biden’s allies plan to spend a whopping $3.5 trillion.
Critics have already seized on one of its most controversial measures: An extra $79 billion for the Internal Revenue Service over the next decade to expand audits and strengthen enforcement.
But deep analysis of its 2465 pages will offer plenty more to skeptical eyes.
The Agriculture committee, for example, is earmarking $3 billion for tree planting, ‘with a priority for projects that increase tree equity’ – linking Democrats’ green priorities with a favored buzzword.
Race and gender-based issues come with smaller spending, but will likely raise hackles among Republicans and moderate Democrats.
The bill includes $25 billion for non-profits to provide ‘anti-discrimination and bias training’ in health care.
‘Tree equity’ is poised to be a winner from the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill. Reading through its 2465 pages reveals plans to spend $3 billion on tree planting, ‘with a priority for projects that increase tree equity’ – whatever that might be
The text of the Build Back Better Act, released by Democrats on the House Budget Committee on Saturday, reveals how President Biden’s allies plan to spend a whopping $3.5 trillion
The proposals contain billions of dollars for tackling climate change, including $12 billion for electric vehicles and infrastructure
President Joe Biden claimed on Saturday that his Build Back Better agenda costs ‘zero dollars’
Analysis by Fox News also found that the federal government would benefit from some of the spending. Of $12 billion for electric cars, some $7 billion would go to the U.S. Postal Service and $ 1 billion to convert its fleet.
And the General Services Administration, which supports federal government activities, would get $1 billion to convert its facilities into ‘high-performance green buildings’ – which are designed to reduce energy consumption – over the next 10 years.
The legislation would also spend billions of dollars to tackle climate change, including President Biden’s proposed ‘Climate Change Corps.’ It would get $7.5 billion for conservation work on public lands.
The scale and scope of the proposals have the ability to shape Biden’s entire presidency. But this week they face stern tests, as moderate Democrats scrutinise the legislation and push for a smaller bill costing less than $2 trillion.
On the other side, progressives have made clear they are prepared to hold up a $1 trillion infrastructure plan if there is no progress on the bigger bill.
On Monday, Biden faced allegations of economic illiteracy after the 78-year-old commander in chief claimed his Build Back Better agenda would cost ‘zero dollars.
Republican lawmakers immediately seized on Biden’s statement and accused him of either lying or being confused
On Saturday night the president tweeted in support of his Build Back Better plan, claiming it adds nothing to the national debt.
But an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) found the proposals in the agenda would require the US to directly borrow $1 trillion, projecting that nearly $3 trillion would be added to the national debt over the next 10 years.
Biden’s progressive agenda is comprised of a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal, and Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package which has no Republican support.
The former measure, which passed the Senate in August, would only offset its own costs by about $200 billion according to the CRFB. That leaves $350 billion to be paid.
‘My Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars,’ Biden said Saturday.
‘Instead of wasting money on tax breaks, loopholes, and tax evasion for big corporations and the wealthy, we can make a once-in-a-generation investment in working America. And it adds zero dollars to the national debt.’
But Republicans immediately accused the president of lying to the American public.
‘Biden’s statement is just patently absurd,’ a Washington Examiner op-ed stated. ‘Even granting arguendo Biden’s dubious claim that the Build Back Better Agenda is ‘already paid for,’ this is wrong on numerous levels.’
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said Biden ‘is very confused’ if he ‘thinks his $3.5 trillion reckless spending plan ‘costs zero dollars” on Sunday night.
Democrats are pushing through their $3.5 trillion spending package using a legislative process known as reconciliation, allowing them to avoid Republican opposition in the form of the filibuster.
But Republicans in Congress are trying to tie the hefty package to a crucial measure aimed at suspending the debt ceiling and avoiding a government shutdown, which is up for a vote on Monday evening.
Forcing Democrats to add the debt ceiling to the $3.5 trillion package would highlight the price tag – which Republicans say may end up as much as $4.3 trillion – and distract from popular elements such as paid family leave, say insiders.
‘The price tag and then the tax hikes that have to go along with that are going to be a core argument for Republicans next year in the mid-terms,’ said a Senate GOP aide.
Democrats have insisted that they want to suspend the debt ceiling so the US could pay for the $7 trillion in debt that Donald Trump accrued during his presidency.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the idea of tying it to the reconciliation package that even earns a cool reception from fiscally-conscious members of her own party.
Numerous other Republicans cast doubt on Biden’s claim, which was also disputed by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin warned his colleagues earlier this month to ‘hit the pause button’ on the $3.5 trillion bill, adding ‘I don’t want to have debt over our head to where we basically can’t service the debt that we have.’
House Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) said ‘I don’t think we can afford to do everything’ in a Fox interview in mid-September.
Biden and progressive lawmakers also claim his hefty Build Back Better agenda would be paid for by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans – which Republicans point out is different than ‘zero dollars.’
Rep. Steve Womack (R-AK) wrote on Twitter, ‘This is completely false. The largest spending spree in government history will cost ‘zero dollars’?’
‘That defies logic and basic math. Alongside massive tax increases, it will add trillions to the debt. Peddling false narratives won’t change those facts.’
New York gubernatorial candidate and GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) mocked Biden on Twitter by posting a Pinocchio emoji with a long nose.
‘MANY trillions of dollars in new spending ‘costs zero dollars’? Sure thing Big Guy,’ Zeldin also wrote.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) also made fun of Biden, retweeting his statement and adding, ‘Math is hard’ on Monday afternoon.
The official Twitter account for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee also weighed in
The conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation said Biden’s policies would add to the national debt
Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) simply retweeted Biden’s Saturday statement and added, ‘This is a lie.’
The official Twitter account for the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee echoed the sentiment.
Zeldin’s fellow New York lawmaker Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said she thought Biden’s statement came from a fake account.
‘I have to admit, I thought this was from a parody account when I first read it. It was disturbing to see it was actually from our President,’ Tenney wrote.
‘He thinks he can spend an unprecedented $3.5 trillion and not add a penny to the debt? This is who is in charge? Scary.’
Congressman Bob Good (R-VA) blasted Biden’s claim his agenda costs ‘zero dollars’ as ‘delusional.’
‘Delusional…reckless spending on socialist priorities is not ‘investing’…and it adds TRILLIONS to the national debt!’ Good said.
Vocal Trump ally Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), said ‘$3.5 Trillion does not equal zero no matter how much Common Core math you try to do.’
Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller wrote a scathing rebuke of Biden
Even people who support the president’s plan dispute his math
While not directly responding to Biden’s statement, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn ripped Democrats’ ‘radical policies’ the day after Biden claimed Build Back Better would cost nothing.
‘Taxpayers are already on the hook for trillions of dollars’ worth of radical policies that will take more money out of the pockets of hardworking Americans,’ Blackburn wrote on Twitter.
The conservative Heritage Foundation also lambasted Biden’s statement as a ‘ridiculous lie.’
‘This is a ridiculous lie—but I guess it’s easy to make things up when you know fact checkers won’t hold you accountable!’ the group stated.
Ex-Trump adviser Stephen Miller also excoriated Biden on Twitter Monday afternoon.
‘If anyone in your life drained their bank account, went on a wild weekend spending spree, bought everything they didn’t need, neglected every responsibility, left themselves destitute & penniless, but believed this manic buying binge ‘cost zero dollars’—you’d have them committed,’ Miller wrote.
Even supporters of the president’s plan find his claim dubious.’I strongly support the new infrastructure plan. It is not costless,’ political scientist Ian Bremmer said Monday morning.