Michelle Obama: Middle-Class Struggles Are Nothing New; Folks 'Squeezed' for 'Decades'

By Susan Jones | February 24, 2012 | 7:54am EST

First lady Michelle Obama tours the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

(CNSNews.com) - At a fundraiser in Louisville, Ky., Thursday evening, First Lady Michelle Obama said she hears every day about the struggles of the middle class -- which are nothing new, she added:

"Every day, I hear about how folks are struggling -- the bills they're trying to pay; the businesses they're trying to keep afloat. I hear about how folks are taking that extra shift, they're working that extra job, they're doing whatever they have to -- they're saving, they're sacrificing, never spending a dime on themselves because they desperately want something better for their kids.

"And make no mistake about it, these struggles that I'm talking about, these are not new. For decades now -- decades -- middle-class folks have been squeezed from all sides. See, the cost of things like gas, groceries, tuition -- prices continuing to rise, but people’s paychecks just haven’t kept up.  And when this economic crisis hit, for far too many families the bottom just completely fell out."

As CNSNews.com recently reported, since President Obama took office, the price of gas has jumped 83 percent; ground beef, 24 percent; and bacon, 22 percent.  And the federal debt has increased by $4.47 trillion since President Barack Obama released his first federal budget on Feb. 26, 2009.

And on Feb. 17, the third anniversary of President Barack Obama’s $787-billion stimulus spending program, the nation's unemployment rate set a new record, staying above 8 percent for the longest period since the end of World War II – 36 months.

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‘Michelle, this ain’t right’

Mrs. Obama described the 2012 election as a "fundamental crossroads" for the country, and she listed everything that's at stake, in her view -- and everything her husband has done to "stand up for the American consumers."

"So believe me, Barack knows what it means when a family struggles," Mrs. Obama said. "He knows what it means when someone doesn’t have a chance to fulfill their potential. See, those are the experiences that have made him the man and, more importantly, the President he is today, and we are blessed to have him.

"And that is what I hear in his voice when he returns home after a long day traveling and he tells me about the people that he’s met. That’s what I see in those quiet moments late at night after the girls have gone to bed, and he’s poring over all those briefings and letters -- the thousands of letters that he gets. The letter from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care. The letter from the father struggling to pay his family’s bills. The letter from far too many young people, young people with so much promise but too few opportunities.

"And I hear the passion and determination in his voice. He says, 'You will not believe what folks are going through.’ He says, ‘Michelle, this ain’t right. We’ve got to fix this. We have so much more work to do.'"

Mrs. Obama described her husband as a man who carries Americans' dreams with him; who never loses sight of the "end goal," who "never, never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise," and who "just keeps moving forward."

She urged the assembled Democrats to help him win a second term: "It is so important to convince everyone you know to just give a little part of their lives each week to this cause, to this campaign," she said.

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