President Obama speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. (Susan Walsh / Associated…)
Reporting from Washington — President Obama outlined a moral case for some of his economic policies on Thursday, saying that his religious values drive his decision to push for tougher regulation, economic equality and changes to the healthcare system.
"We can't leave our values at the door," Obama told a group of lawmakers and other Washington figures at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. "If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union."
The president said his push to regulate financial institutions, require insurance companies to cover people with existing conditions, or tighten rules for lenders are inspired by his faith.
"I do so because I genuinely believe it'll make the economy stronger for everybody, but I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years. And I believe in God's command to love thy neighbor as thyself," he said.
He later added that his choices weren't ordained.
"Our goals should not be to declare our policies as biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us. Michelle reminds me of this often," he said.
The president and the first lady were warmly received at the bipartisan breakfast, one of the few places where Democrats and Republicans exchange more than perfunctory pleasantries these days. Sen. Jeff Sessions, (R-Ala.) introduced the president by thanking him "for all the way your strive for all Americans, you give your life to that."