White House Tells TheBlaze What Obama Really Meant in Talking Socialism Versus Capitalism

In the wake of a controversy created during President Barack Obama’s trip to Argentina last week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze Monday that the president “understands capitalism brings freedom better than any other system,” but he stressed that the United States “is not going to impose a system on another country.”

TheBlaze asked Earnest to elaborate on Obama’s comment last week during an Argentinian town hall forum when he told the audience not get caught up in the debate over whether socialism or capitalism is a better system.

“So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate,” Obama said last week in Buenos Ares. “Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical, and just choose from what works. “You don’t have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works.”

President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall event at Usina de las Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Argentina in more than a decade as his counterpart, Mauricio Macri, seeks a rapprochement with the international community following a decade of financial and diplomatic isolation. (Diego Levy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall event at Usina de las Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday. (Diego Levy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Earnest noted that, before going to Argentina, Obama hosted an hosted an entrepreneurship summit “in a nominally communist country” of Cuba, “to encourage them to pursue their vision of a entrepreneurship society.”

“The president is making a concerted effort to reach out to entrepreneurs and innovators because he understands that capitalism is a system that brings freedom better than any other one,” Earnest said. “The truth is, I think what he’s observing is, the degree to which the government regulates the economy varies in a variety of different countries.”

“There is a vigorous debate in this country about the degree to which the government should be regulating the economy, but nobody questions the fact that our country’s economic, political and social strength benefits significantly from a robust capitalist economic system,” Earnest continued. “The president certainly believes that making sure that other countries understand how the United States has benefited in this kind of system is an important part of our diplomacy.”

When asked, “To say ‘whatever works,’ could that undermine his own point that a market-based system works best?” Earnest responded, “No, I think the president is just making the point that the United States is not going to impose a system on another country.”

“Ultimately, citizens in these countries need to determine the path that works best for them,” he added. “I think the president was also clear that he believed that they would find that the path that is characterized by capitalism is the one that is most likely to lead to a prosperous and free country.