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

 

796Comments
Jan 24, 2014 2:48PM
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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 3:24PM
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Holy hell. An article with Obama's name in it that is actually negative and doesn't try to shield him.

THEY DO EXIST!!

Jan 24, 2014 3:45PM
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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 2:59PM
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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 3:56PM
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 4:15PM
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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
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I wish I could just wake up and this was just a bad dream.
Jan 24, 2014 3:47PM
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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.
Jan 24, 2014 4:26PM
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It is hard for me to believe that there are people who still think Obama is doing a good job for this country. It is really amazing that liberals will shout down any criticism of this totally inept president.

He ran on a platform of lies and is still able to fool a large per centage of the US population. Anyone with any common sense should have been able to see that we are on the brink of economic ruin and yet this idiot was voted back into the White House by imbeciles who would not admit the facts. Only the super rich will survive this fiasco.

Jan 24, 2014 4:24PM
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rich people do not make others poor.  The economic policies of Obama make people poor.  When you force working people to pay for the health care of anyone out there who chooses to not work you make them poorer.  When you have to sneak taxes and charges into our everyday lives you make us poorer.  Telling the uneducated that it's the "rich" who are to blame is just a smoke screen to take their attention away from him.  There are two types of Americans who will disagree with me.  The uninformed.  They just can't believe their government would do anything negative to them.  The others are those who no matter what they see will continue to blame rich or republican or just about anyone else for the problems of our country.  These people are dead to the intelligent people of this country but we will always have them with us.

I've seen poor people pull themselves up for a better life but I've seen more sit back and live off the crumbs the government gives them.  They drank the kool aid. 

Jan 24, 2014 4:19PM
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Just another proof positive item the Osama is by far the worst and most stupid this country has ever had.  Get rid of both self-serving parties and start over with the constitution as the footing.

Jan 24, 2014 4:13PM
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The one thing that would thrill me is to see Oblama on unemployment now!
Jan 24, 2014 3:54PM
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Nobama has scared the sh*t out of business.  No one knows what his hidden agenda is.  Or maybe he is just simply super stupid.  Regardless, businesses cause growth and employment but business cannot trust the lying POTUS.  As a result, businesses are stashing their cash and waiting for his much welcomed departure.  If Hillary gets elected, you can expect businesses to continue to hold on to their cash and keep employment down. Simply put, businesses are smart enough to know when an idiot is running the country so they put their money up and will play when the field is fair.
Jan 24, 2014 4:41PM
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What do you think the Republicans have been screaming for years!  Why do you always have to wait until things are at their worst?  The older folks and younger folks are suffering greatly under Obama's policies.  Terrible.
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