Obama faces up to policy limits on U.S. urban ills

U.S. President Obama answers question on Baltimore riots during joint news conference at the White House in WashingtonBy James Oliphant WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite his recognition that the violence in Baltimore is rooted in economic desperation, Barack Obama has been unable to enact substantial policies to tackle inner city problems, facing limits imposed by Congress and his own identity as the first black president. As images of looting, rioting and fires from the east coast city transfixed the nation, Obama acknowledged on Tuesday he would be unable to win support for the kind of broad economic and criminal-justice reforms needed to transform urban neighborhoods. He has focused on more modest efforts, last year launching My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring and support program aimed at helping at-risk African-American children and young men in urban areas. Obama has touted the initiative as a means to combat the kind of inner-city turmoil seen in Baltimore, but it remains in its infancy.

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