As President Obama offered proposals to build “ladders of opportunity,” he suggested that many problems in Chicago trace back to the absence of strong families in the city.

Obama placed the remarks in a very personal context. “I wish I’d had a father around, who was involved,” he said, after acknowledging the “heroic” women who raise children alone. “Loving supportive parents . . . those parents supporting kids — that’s the single most important thing. Unconditional love for your child — that makes a difference.”

He suggested that a lack of role models plays into the violence in Chicago. “There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding,” Obama noted, adding that too many boys “don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in position to support their families.”

Government policies have exacerbated this problem, he acknowledged. “We should encourage marriage by removing the financial disincentives for couples who love one another [but lose money if they do],” Obama said.

H/T Felicia Somnez