Obama criticizes the rich-poor gap Washington ‘made worse’ on his watch

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In the fifth year of the Obama presidency, America’s middle class continues to suffer while the rich are gaining, President Barack Obama noted in a much ballyhooed speech last week before his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, one of the hottest destinations for America’s elite. …

President Barack Obama at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 30. / Larry Downing / Reuters

President Barack Obama at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 30. / Larry Downing / Reuters

“Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent,” Obama pointed out in a July 24 speech at Knox College, Galesburg, Ill. “The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009. The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. … This growing inequality not just of result, inequality of opportunity – this growing inequality is not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics.

“Because when middle-class families have less to spend, guess what, businesses have fewer consumers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America – that idea that if you work hard you can make it here.”

Obama then complained that the government he presides over has made the problem worse: “Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored this problem; too often, Washington has made things worse.”

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