U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that it is imperative the pay gap between what men and women earn be eliminated. Obama, speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, also targeted the media, and Fox News in particular, for its handling of the issue of police violence.
Obama began his remarks calling attention to his administration's achievements before segueing into women's issues. He talked about improving the lives of women, particularly black women and girls who he said are imprisoned at twice the rates of white women and who also suffer higher rates of sexual assault, suspension from school and other issues. He also pushed for more women to get into scientific, medical and technological fields.
The president evoked a smile from Hillary Clinton during his remarks on the pay gap, saying, "I want Michelle getting paid at some point," and then singling out Clinton with: "I know she can relate to Michelle when she says, 'How come you get paid and I don't?' " He noted women are "disproportionately not paid what they're worth."
Obama highlighted his effort to get a woman on the $10 bill but noted, "We gotta make sure they're getting $10 bills," a reference to the suggestion that a woman replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
He talked about closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and expanding paid leave for more Americans, adding that it made no sense to shut down the federal government in a bid to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.
On the issue of police violence, Obama said police officers put their lives on the line, show uncommon bravery and deserve our respect. "Somehow, this never gets on the TV," he said, noting he's repeatedly made similar remarks.
"There is no contradiction between us caring about our law enforcement officers and also making sure our laws are applied fairly," he said. "Hope I'm making that clear."
He said the ubiquitous presence of video and body cameras as well as social media have "opened our eyes to these incidents."
"We can't avoid these tough conversations altogether," he said.