Obama Highlights American Dream with Steve Jobs

[Editor’s Note: The following story is largely about U.S. politics, and is an example of how politics and technology often intersect. It’s also an example of the stature that both Apple and its CEO, Steve Jobs, have achieved in the mainstream world. If reading about politics on a Mac site bothers you, don’t read it. - Editor]

In a press conference Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama picked Apple CEO Steve Jobs to illustrate the importance of the “American Dream.” The president was speaking to the importance of protecting the middle class and providing opportunities to all Americans, and he used Steve Jobs as an example of the benefits of doing so.

Steve Jobs and President Barack Obama

Steve Jobs and President Barack Obama

The comment came when reporter Mark Knoller from CBS News asked the president if there is a divide between the middle class and wealthy Americans. As part of his reply, President Obama decried the accumulation of wealth into the hands of fewer Americans as an issue that affects the middle class.

“What is also a fact,” he said, according to a transcript of the press conference published by the White House, “is that people in the top 1 percent, people in the top 1/10th of 1 percent, or 1/100th of 1 percent have a larger share of income and wealth than any time since the 1920s. Those are just facts. That’s not a feeling on the part of Democrats. Those are facts.”

He said that America’s middle class has always been the greatest strength of the country, and that he believed it important for everyone in the country to, “have a shot at the American Dream.”

He added, “That should be what we’re focused on. How are we creating opportunity for everybody? So that we celebrate wealth. We celebrate somebody like a Steve Jobs, who has created two or three different revolutionary products. We expect that person to be rich, and that’s a good thing. We want that incentive. That’s part of the free market.”

The question was framed by the recent extension of the Bush tax cuts (which is what started the questioning from Mr. Knoller) that included tax cuts for the wealthiest tiers of Americans. Mr. Obama’s support for extending the full range of tax cuts angered many Democrats, while the president defended the measure as a compromise with Republicans that was the best way to ensure that the economy continues to grow going forward.

In October, President Obama met with Steve Jobs. According to the White House at that time, Mr. Obama was, “eager to talk to [Mr. Jobs] about the economy, innovation and technology, education.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also said, “They discussed American competitiveness and education, especially reforms such as the president’s Race to the Top initiative. They then talked about energy independence and ways to increase job creation.”