Obama: ‘I would be beside myself’ if I were a parent in Flint

President Obama on Wednesday pledged the help of the federal government for the people of Flint, Mich., and said he would be angry if he were a parent living in the city.

“I am very proud of what I’ve done as president, but the only job that’s more important to me is the job of father,” he said in a speech in Detroit. “And I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kid’s health could be at risk.”

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Flint is facing a growing crisis over high lead levels in local drinking water, the product of switching the city’s water supply to a local river.   

Obama declared a federal emergency in the city last weekend, opening the door to federal funding there and charging a team of government experts to work in the region. He met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D) in Washington on Tuesday.

“I told her we are going to have her back and all the people of Flint’s back as they work their way through this terrible tragedy,” the president said.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has been roundly criticized for his handling of the Flint situation. He pledged in his state of the state address Tuesday night to provide funding for the city to replace corroded water pipes and fixtures, test and treat children with high lead levels, study of the city’s water infrastructure and aid its utilities. 

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said Tuesday that the plan doesn’t go far enough to help children whose health might be impacted by the drinking water. Weaver told reporters that the city needs more resources and officials need to be held accountable for the lead levels. 

Obama said the Flint situation is a cautionary tale for policy-makers. 

“It is a reminder of why you can’t shortchange basic services we provide to our people and that we, together, provide as a government to make sure that the public health and safety is preserved,” he said.