Even as the president acknowledged widespread cynicism that has been stoked by his administration’s mismanagement of, the new federal insurance website, he said repeatedly that government’s role was to give Americans a hand up, not a handout.

“It’s true that government cannot prevent all of the downsides of the technological change and global competition,” he said. But, he added, “We’ve also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class.”

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