This website is a member of Liberty Alliance, which has been named as an company.

Obama’s ‘Redistribution of Wealth’ Radio Interview, 2001

Written on Friday, July 22, 2011 by

If you ever had any doubts about what Barack Obama’s intentions for America really are, all you need to do is listen to his own words—from way back before he became president–to get your answer.

What follows is the transcript of a Chicago radio interview with then-Senator Obama in 2001. reproduced the interview for YouTube and at the end of their video they wrote, “This is not a discussion about whether or not redistribution of wealth is right or wrong.  This is a discussion about how best to do it!”

Announcer: Good morning and welcome to Odyssey on WBEZ Chicago 91.5 FM and we’re joined by Barack Obama who is Illinois State Senator from the 13th district and senior lecturer in the law school at the University of Chicago.

Obama: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.  And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties.  It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.   And that hasn’t shifted.

One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.

Announcer: Let’s talk with Karen. Good morning, Karen, you’re on Chicago Public Radio.

Karen: Hi. The gentleman made the point that the Warren court wasn’t terribly radical with economic changes. My question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically and is that that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place–the court–or would it be legislation at this point?

Obama: Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts.  The institution just isn’t structured that way.

You just look at very rare examples during the desegregation era the court was willing to for example order changes that cost money to a local school district.  The court was very uncomfortable with it.  It was very hard to manage; it was hard to figure out.  You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.

The court’s just not very good at it and politically it’s very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard.  So I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally.  Any three of us sitting here could come up with a rational for bringing about economic change through the courts.

Posting Policy
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.

  • DestroyCapitalism

    Im going to be the anarchist version of James Okeefe, the ACORN and medicare guy. going around and interviewing wall street banksters (parasites, misquitos, and flys). I’ll provoke them to tell me how much they hate everybody but themselves. They’ll just think im another one of them.

    • IdontBrakeForDems

      I don’t know about the bankers, but I think you are a flake.

    • LoveCapitalism

      Flake is WAAAAY to nice a word for this guy!

    • Johnnygard

      No one is stupid enough to think you are “one of them”!

    • Denise

      Did you know that Wall Street bankers gave 2/3 of their campaign contributions to the Democratic party?

  • DaNangMe

    Obama has made it clear that judicial activism is one of the measures his handlers have instructed him to use.That along with his warped translation of the Constitution and rewrite of History to fit the Progressive(Communist)narrative has brought an organized chaos to this Country unlike any ever in our past.


      The statement he made in another speech is enough for me — “I will stand with the muslims no matter what.” That covers his ideology and everything else he says is icing on his rotten cake. Put it all together and you have a total traitor who should be hung for what he is doing to our republic.


      P.S. dc – you certainly have delusions of grandeur – don’t you?

    • GDC

      It is obvious that YOU are delusional, psychotic and should be put on anti-psychotic medication.


      GDC – I was referring to destroy capitalism who is our resident fool.

    • daves

      Penelope – the president never said that.

      He said that if hatred and bigotry against Arab and Pakistani immigrants got worse he, will stand by their side.

      I think it was a very brave comment.

    • Ben Manforth

      You progressive, liberal, socialist Demonrats would still call him your messiah even if he sold his mother into slavery


      daves – fraid you’re wrong – go back and check his speeches – the ones before he was elected. there is nothing brave about this evil man. me thinks your vision is skewed.

    • daves

      $100 says you cannot find it for me.

    • MrBill

      Obammy said, “If the political winds of change turn ugly, I will stand by the Moozlumz”. Almost funny……all of the ugly winds of change have come from him and his puke liberals.

    • Whackajig

      There are no circumstances where capital letters should be use when refering to ovomit. Caps show respect………. is that your desire, or do you just not know any better?

  • am2sweet

    Did anyone catch that term, “negative liberties”? How or why would anyone consider the Constitution as ‘negative liberties’? It is a very postive thing for Americans giving them the rights to speak freely, worship freely, own a gun, and many other things. This is the problem with having a Muslim Nazi dictator type trying to run the country. He doesn’t realize that we do have rights that are only negative toward what he wants which is a third world country where he parties all the time and we work as do only as told.

    • daves

      What he meant by negative liberties is that the constitution says what the Government cannot do.

      An example is the first amendment. It does not say what the Government can do – it says what they cannot do.

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


      The Framers of the Constitution Knew what the word Free meant. The wanted to ensure individual freedoms thus they wrote what the Congress(Government) could not do to abridge, infringe, or deny any of the then COMMONLY Accepted Freedoms at that time in history. Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation was not an issue at that time it was a forgone conclusion that ALL legitimate (taxable) Citizens have equal freedoms. Now all of the Revisionist anti Republicans (we are supposed to be a republic not a democracy) Knee Jerk, hand wringing egotistical social leftists are using every single media outlet on the Planet to give new meanings to old words.
      “Death to Political Correctness”
      I hope all the “New World Orderite’s” Choke on their own excrement.

    • Candy

      The Constitution does so tell what the government should do for us. They shall defend and protect us from enemies, provide for the infrastructure of the nation,regulate commerce. All the rest of the jobs they do they have usurped from the states.(agriculture, education, labor, EPA, etc.)

    • Johnnygard

      The Constitution is negative toward the government (restricting what they can do TO us), and positive toward the citizens (restricting what the politicians take away from us).

  • R. Cook

    Those “negative liberties” so despised by Obummer are negative in the respect that they negate many of the past liberties of oppression undertaken by central governments. This is why Obummer hates them.

    His answer is to circumvent congress and the courts with executive orders when he decides the Constitution is too restraining.

  • E V

    This moron graduated from HARVARD Law School!
    That ought to tell you why we have so many idiots practicing law today. AND entering politics.
    The Constitution CLEARLY states PRECISELY what the Federal government must do for the people. The REST is up to the States to decide for themselves.
    If this moron is reflective of Harvard (and any other) University education, it (and others like it) need to have their Charters and Accreditation as institutes of higher learning permanently revoked.

    • Whackajig

      Harvard is certainly part of the problem with obungle, but never forget he is a muslim kneeger, and therein lies the biggest problem.

    • daves

      Still the racist. :(

    • Johnnygard

      Whack is a liberal trying to make us all look racist, then a dozen idiots give him a thumbs up so the libs can say; “See all the Republicans that only hate him ’cause he’s black.”


      Thank you for bringing point into the fray; Section *Clause 1 cites exactly what “the Congress ie. Government can do to and or for the people. Since 1808 Various “Governmental Offices and Agencies have usurped the constitution and have gotten away with . Why?? mainly because the average citizen had little or no access to any media other than that which was controlled by greedy self serving Publishers and Political cronies seeking exploitation of their personal agenda.
      So much for freedom of the press huh?

  • LadyLiberty

    Conservative Activists should show the Libtards right out the WH back door with one swift kick in his rear end; with no pension for his treasonous policies intended to take down America.

    Giving the 4 of them just the clothes on their back and one way tickets to Kenya. We will redistribute their money to help pay down the debt.

  • m. sharpe

    There are many Alinskyites that are active or financing their agenda. AARP,GE,Progressive ins..etc. Dont just vote with a foot, but both feet. I.D. the ‘Tares’ and steer clear of them.

    • Judy

      M Sharpe,
      You are soooo right about Progressive Ins, GE and AARP. from what I have heard and read… We need to always keep a watch for who is behind obama etc and than tell everyone to stay away from these companies. Microsoft and Bill Gates is very involved too, what what I have read..


      Good Idea but who among the media (any kind) has the testicular fortitude to publish and update a list of said companies, corporations, conglomerates, cartels???

  • Barbara Simpson listener

    Rush played this clip on his radio show several times.If the current piece of cow manure in the oval office doesn t like the way our founding fathers then what the hell is he doing in The United States then?????????????????????????????????????

    • Lino

      Oh, he won’t leave the country! He got so many free-bees here, his education, his “corporate jets”, etc. He is used to getting many things free from the taxpayers, so he wants his constituents, whoever they maybe, to have the same free things he got, that is way he wants to distribute the wealth of those of us who work very hard
      to earn our living.

    • http://AOL Ellen

      Anyone remember when during his campaign he said that he had visited 57 states? Someone on the internet pointed out that 57 is the number of Islam States. Interesting??

    • http://verizon Ann Rand

      Effing FREELOADER!!!!

    • MrBill

      So many commentators tried to warn us about Obammy. Truth is, the dumbing down of the USA has been all too successful. There are now enough people here that are too stupid to vote that an event like Obammy happened. He needs to attain room temperature by any means necessary, natural or not, before he does any more harm to our nation.

  • Bree,

    He is clueless! – as in Clueless in Washington. Is he talking about AMERICA?

  • GDC

    Impeach Obama, prosecute him, execute him!!!


      In all fairness to those who voted for OB…they did not want to believe what he said and stood for..he was honest about it…however he did throw rev. Wright under the bus for awhile…also a relative in Kenya and a few others…but most telling of all is who he has surrounded himself with since in office…the czars (some who were blocked)remember!

    • http://AOL Ellen

      No one should be in a power-position in our government without first having been exposed to Congressional investigation. People judge you by the company you keep — time we take a good look at the thugs Obama has appointed — Chicago thugs are running and ruining our great country.


      Impeachment would be quicker than Nov!

    • TW

      Impeachment doesn’t NECESSARILY remove him from office – he needs to be REMOVED. Impeachment is initiated by a constitutional body, a.k.a. Congress, and the removal would depend on the charge and conviction. But none of them have the cojones to do so. I think there is a lot of fear of retaliation from the powers that be and it’s not Onumba.


      If it was Proved within reason that He is not eligible to be POTUS, ie. Not a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES. He could literally be thrown to the curb of Pennsylvania Avenue along with all of his belongings an if he refused to vacate would be charged with criminal tress pass.He could also be charged with Several million counts of fraud. But there is not a single elected or appointed official in the entire united state who will initiate the required actions to make it happen. The governor of Hawaii, and the mayor of Honolulu, Nancy Pelosi and many many others could be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. Simple because; as individual legitimate tax payers we each have been defrauded of our tax dollars(our investment into the U.S. Government that has been and are paying him.

    • Johnnygard

      Give me the actual logistics of how this removal would take place. Eric Holder and the Attorny Generals office would do it? RIGHT!!! The FBI under an Obama appointee? SURE!!! The people in all the law enforcement agencies have a liberal as their boss, and they can only work on the projects that they are assigned to work on. So exactly how would it happen?

  • tod

    It’s past time to take back our country ,I say it’s time to pick up our guns and take it back now!

  • fat cow says

    this man is so full of crap,flames come from his mouth,

  • 1xgi

    If you don’t know how to tell if obummer is lying just watch his lips if they are moving he is lying….pretty sad that a person of his lowness could even be nominated much less elected wake up America impeach this guy before he can do anymore damage he is not for the USA. GOD BLESS AMERICA

  • http://AOL Ellen

    As for Obama’s judgment — he chose that idiot Biden as his running mate. That should have been enough!!!!!

  • Jimbolya

    The constitution is clear on what the Gov is supposed to do for you! Provide for the mutual defense & regulate interstate tariff. All else is a fabrication of socialist doctrine.

  • http://http/ sean murry

    When he was running he said “i will redistuted the wealth to other people,that is the socailist way.

  • James Gibson

    obama had several interviews before he was elected and said his economic policies would be based on returning the wealth of this country to its “rightful owners”. He also said he understood that lowering taxes brought in more revenue to the treasury but that would be fundamentally unfair. I would like to know who it is fundamentally unfair to as well as who are the “rightful owners”.

    I never heard his interviewers ask those questions. Wouldn’t those questions be the natural followup to his ridiculous statements?

  • Jimmy Harbour

    Nothing about Obama surprises me. He is a fraud and everyone knows it. What I don’t understand is why Congress doesn’t bring him up on charges and impeach him. Everything he has done is to harm our country. That is one I do not understand. This country has given him so much and he hates it so bad that it is just unimaginable. They say they won’t take action against him because the blacks would revolt. Let them! it they are that damned stupid to allow this thief to stay in power just because he is black is beyond the realm of all reason. Ignorance is all you can call it.

    • Questionman

      This is our first black POTUS and these Tea Bagging assholes don’t care about him for sure, and don’t care about this country or world either. IF we as a country defaults, that will mean HUGE interest rates passed onto US here in the USA and our credit rating will be lowered. That affects banks, lending, jobs, etc in a negative way. Secondly, while I’ve had my problems with O being percieved as “Weak” on some things by ME…THAT MAN INHERITED THE HOLY GRAIL OF MESS from George Bush. 2 unfunded fake made-up wars costing us TRILLIONS and will forever…Unfunded mandates…No child left behind, Medicare Pt D, tax cuts for the Uber-rich–NONE of which was PAID for….put this country into the TOILET BOWL. Who in hell gives TRILLIONS of tax cuts to the richest 1% while we’re spending TRILLIONS in a war? He increased military spending, while cutting Vets benefits in the process. Cut Education. KILLED Jobs, and only 2 million jobs were produced during his administration’s 8 years…even though he gave ALL those damn tax cuts to the rich who HE said would hire. They did alright…overseas and to the tune of $2 dollars per hour to Chinese workers ….NOW we got Those Racist Tethuglicans who don’t care about anything…Think about it. You got The Tea Party KILLING us with this debt limit increase, yet these same types gave W HIS debt ceiling increase 7 times and gave Ronnie Raygun 11 debt ceiling increases and at the time Raygun expanded the nation’s deficit, yet Dems didn’t stop him from increasing our nations DEBT Ceiling, and these Tea Bagging racist assholes won’t even give Obama ONE got damn Debt Ceiling raise, and the debt wouldn’t be this high, but because of what Bush DID to our economy those 6 years when Repubs controlled all 3 branches of government spending like drunken sailors? O’s already given to MY detriment too much…but I don’t think he’s giving anymore now…Put everything on the table, AFTER the Congress gives him a CLEAN debt ceiling bill to pass so we as a nation can AVOID default, then we can talk about et’thang. The ball is in Rethuglicans court now…In the hands of John Boehner who the Tea Party is trying to destroy along with Eric Cantor.

  • for interview questions

    I will immediately grab your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me realize so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.