Income inequality is worse under Obama

The president is getting dangerously close to leaving a legacy of soaring corporate profits and slumping wages.

By The Week Jan 24, 2014 2:33PM

Image: Senior man looking sad © George Doyle, Stockbyte, Getty ImagesAmericans today are very worried about income inequality.

A Gallup poll this month found that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the distribution of income and wealth in the U.S. The disappointment goes across party lines -- 54 percent of Republicans are dissatisfied, as well as 70 percent of Independents and 75 percent of Democrats.

And a growing number of people are worried that they can no longer get ahead simply by working hard, suggesting that inequality is becoming more entrenched.

As Paul Krugman argues, this gives Obama a pretty strong mandate to focus on reducing inequality.

But of course, income inequality has actually gotten much worse under Obama's watch. In Obama's 2013 inaugural address, he argued that "our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." But during his presidency, this is precisely what has occurred.

U.S. median household income in June 2013 was 4.4 percent below where it was in June 2009, when the recovery began.

Meanwhile, the top one percent of Americans -- those earning above $366,623 a year -- have taken 81 percent of the fruits of the recovery. And the top 0.01 percent -- earning about $8 million a year -- took an astonishing 39 percent of the growth.

Indeed, Obama is getting dangerously close to leaving a legacy of soaring corporate profits and slumping wages; climbing stock prices and high unemployment; and a recovery for the ultra-rich, and not much else for everyone else.

This began during the crisis itself. Both Republicans and Democrats chose to bail out the well-connected financial industry that caused the crisis, but help has been much less forthcoming and transient for the unemployed and a squeezed middle class.

Now none of this is necessarily Obama's fault alone. The trend toward greater income inequality began way before Obama took office; the Great Recession took a deep toll on the 99 percent; and for much of Obama's presidency, his economic proposals have been blocked by an intransigent Congress. Furthermore, Obama has significantly expanded the safety net of the welfare state, a move that at least provides temporary assistance to the poor, but is not a long-term solution to income inequality like stronger job creation. 

Still, there's obviously more work to be done. This involves Congress agreeing to ideas that both Republicans and Democrats can embrace, a rather difficult task, but not an impossible one. These could include increasing and extending tax breaks for businesses that hire new workers, the streamlining of costly regulations on small businesses, spending on improving the nation's infrastructure, and raising the minimum wage (surprisingly, yes, Republicans do favor it).

Fortunately for Obama, Congress has recently shown some signs of compromise by finally managing to pass a budget. But whether he can use this new atmosphere of conciliation to ramp up growth and opportunity for the middle class remains to be seen.

More from The Week


Jan 24, 2014 2:48PM
Of course it is.  Obamanomics was designed to reward the parasitic democrat voter base.   It is a complete failure for the middle class as they have grown far poorer.   The poor have become destitute.   Democrat economic policies have caused massive debt, killed jobs, caused massive tax increases, and the worst is yet to come under Obamacare.

This train wreck may drag down the entire economy and cause a depression the likes of which we have never seen.  

Remember that when you vote in November...   
Jan 24, 2014 3:47PM

#10. I vote Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry
whatever I want. I’ve decided to marry my German Shepherd.
#9. I vote Democrat because I believe oil companies' profits of 4% on
a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon
at 15% isn’t.
#8. I vote Democrat because I believe the government will do a better
job of spending the money I earn than I would.
#7. I vote Democrat because Freedom of Speech is fine as long as
nobody is offended by it.
#6. I vote Democrat because I'm way too irresponsible to own a gun,
and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from
murderers and thieves. I am also thankful that we have a 911 service
that get police to your home in order to identify your body after a
home invasion.
#5. I vote Democrat because I'm not concerned about millions of
babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive
and comfy.
#4. I vote Democrat because I think illegal aliens have a right to
free health care, education, and Social Security benefits, and we
should take away Social Security from those who paid into it.
#3. I vote Democrat because I believe that businesses should not be
allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and
give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the
Democrat Party sees fit.
#2. I vote Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite
the Constitution every few days to suit fringe kooks who would never
get their agendas past the voters.
…And the #1 reason I vote Democrat is because I think it's better to
pay $billions$ for oil to people who hate us, but not drill our own
because it might upset some endangered beetle, gopher or fish here in
America. We don't care about the beetles, gophers or fish in those
other countries.
Jan 24, 2014 3:24PM
Holy hell. An article with Obama's name in it that is actually negative and doesn't try to shield him.


Jan 24, 2014 3:45PM
Obama only wants those two economic classes - Wealthy and Poor.   The poor to rely on the government to provide for them, and the wealthy to provide the funds.  Obama has no use for the middle class, which is why he's doing his best to get rid of them.
Jan 24, 2014 4:14PM
Ok I will admit it, Obama is the worst president in history!
Jan 24, 2014 2:59PM
The guy is a total con.  If you look rationally and objectively the correlation of what he says he will do and actually does is very close to 100% the opposite.
Jan 24, 2014 3:38PM
"Obama is getting dangerously close to leaving a legacy of ; climbing stock prices and high unemployment; and a recovery for the ultra-rich, and not much else for everyone else."

Because he's such an ignorant, arrogant, petulant child that he thinks the only way to help people out is to punish the people he thinks has too much money (if they are Conservatives) and then act like he's giving the money to the people he thinks needs it.

Change to a flat tax or national sales tax, cut back the wasteful spending across the board, reduce the size of government and we all benefit.  

Jan 24, 2014 3:50PM

"Liberalism is a mental disorder…Common sense is the cure."  
                          -  Ronald Reagan

Clint Eastwood's One Sentence Editorial --
"We Americans are so tired of being thought of as ****es by the rest of the world that we went to the polls this past November and removed all doubt."
Jan 24, 2014 3:56PM

Take a look and see what happened in Wisconsin since a republican conservative took over!!!!

He has money in reserve and is giving money back to the people in the form of a tax break and unemployment is at a low!

Wake up! Socialist society doesn't work people!

Jan 24, 2014 3:55PM

Every promise Obama has made has turned into a travesty for the American people, illegals are doing great, Americans are paying the price.

His healthcare act sucks, his financial plans suck, his leadership sucks, he has no idea what he is doing.  He has never submitted a budget in the five years being in office.  A budget to operate the government is a vary important tool, and it allows adjustments to pull back funding for abused areas and misused areas of government.

Obama has no idea how to lead, budget, or accomplish his many promises he stated during his campaigns. 

He had all the answers now he cant find them.

If you voted for Odumbo, how do you like his "change" so far.  I hope all those that voted for Odumbo see the price they will pay today and after he is out of office.  But don't forget as you work your butts off, he gets to go to Hawaii and play thousands of dollars of golf at your expense.
When is your next two week vacation to Hawaii??????  LOL  enjoy the ride with this idiot.

Jan 24, 2014 3:33PM
Why doesn't big mouth Obama give his millions to poor people. He is all mouth & no show as usual.
Jan 24, 2014 3:57PM
Blaming the financial industry is like blaming the gun, someone pulled the trigger, In this instance it was government policy that required banks to make SUB-PRIME loans, called the Community Reinvestment Act.  Lenders had to make these loans to people who stood no chance of paying them back, thank you Jimmy Carter.

Recession - When your neighbor looses his job
Depression - When you loose your job
Recovery - When Obama looses his job.
Jan 24, 2014 3:48PM
Jan 24, 2014 3:48PM
The only thing worse than Obama's economic lack of policy (screw the poor unless they are a minority) is his FORCED HEALTH INSURANCE that will with deductibles and copays after the high premiums put more and more people in the position of paying the penalty.  Obama should be impeached and Pelosi should be kicked out of her position.  My spouse and I fought big time when he voted for the Bully in Chief.  Obama would make a bad community organizer let alone president, and sadly I hate it when use the race card but many voted for him because of his skin tone and that is sad.  We knew very little about Mr. Hope and Change and his hope and change is destroying our country, and he has taken race relations backwards big time.
Jan 24, 2014 3:39PM
We have had income inequality from the time we minted coins. The liberal democrats just make up a crisis,get their lapdogs in the media to report it an the American people are ignorant enough to buy into it.It this something new ? Democrats don't want anyone to focus on their policies that have gutted the recovery , raise dept  to record levels,and those failures don't come close to matching the lies we were sold on obamacare. Wise up people.
Jan 24, 2014 3:48PM
Six trivia questions to see how much history you really know.  Be honest, it's kinda fun and revealing. If you don't know the answer make your best guess. Answer all of the questions (no cheating) before looking at the answers.
And, no, the answers to these questions aren't all “Barack Obama”.
Who said it?
1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
    A. Karl Marx
    B. Adolph Hitler
    C. Joseph Stalin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few...... And to replace it with shared responsibility, for shared prosperity."
    A. Lenin
    B. Mussolini
    C. Idi Amin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

3) "(We).....can't just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people."
    A.  Nikita  Khrushev
    B.  Joseph Goebbels
    C. Boris Yeltsin 
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own ... in order to create this common ground."
    A. Mao Tse Dung
    B. Hugo Chavez
    C. Kim Jong II
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."
    A.  Karl Marx
    B. Lenin
    C. Molotov
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched."
    A. Pinochet
    B. Milosevic
    C. Saddam Hussein
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above
Scroll down for answers
(1) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/29/2004
(2) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 5/29/2007
(3) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(4) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(5) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(6) E. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 9/2/2005
Want to know something scary?
She may be the next president if you don't forward this to everyone that you know.   Oh my God forbid!!
Jan 24, 2014 3:46PM
We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman,
that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for
the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in
my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not
care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the 'green thing' in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled,
so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for
numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of
brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that
public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced
by our scribbling’s. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown
paper bags.

But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day. Back then, we
washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried
clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts --
wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got
hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And
the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a
screen the size of the state of Montana .

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric
machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the
mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic
bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.
We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we
didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on

But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a
plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We filled writing pens with
ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor
instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to
school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in
the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the
"green thing."

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a
dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal
beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest
burger joint. But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we
old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in
conservation from a smartass young person...

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us
off... especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can't make change

without the cash register telling them how much.
Jan 24, 2014 4:15PM
Under this president the middle class have lost income, approx. $5k a year and the poor have learned to become more and more depended on the government.  This administration is destroying our country.
Jan 24, 2014 4:15PM
I wish I could just wake up and this was just a bad dream.
Jan 24, 2014 3:47PM
When will you people realize that the solution in not in politics...Inequality has been growing directly concurrent to currency devaluation. That's 94% since the Federal Reserve was founded in 1913. The problem is systemic and the solution is education. If even 25% of the American population truly realized the dynamics of our currency system there would be a revolution tomorrow.
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