Obama Income Inequality: ‘Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent’

By Zack
September 17, 2013 1:09 pm Last Updated: September 17, 2013 1:09 pm

President Barack Obama said in a September 16 speech that the income inequality in the U.S. has gotten worse recently.

“We need to grow faster.  We need more good-paying jobs,” he said. “We need more broad-based prosperity.  We need more ladders of opportunity for people who are currently poor but want to get into the middle class.  Because even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation’s income last year, while the average worker isn’t seeing a raise at all. In fact, that understates the problem.  Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.”

Obama said that the winner-take-all economy, “where a few do better and better and better while everybody else just treads water or loses ground,” is a trend that has been made worse by the recession.

Obama added that he’s focused on income equality. 

“And as Congress begins another budget debate, that’s what Congress should be focused on.  How do we grow the economy faster; how do we create better jobs; how do we increase wages and incomes; how do we increase opportunity for those who have been locked out of opportunity; how do we create better retirement security — that’s what we should be focused on, because the stakes for our middle class and everybody who’s fighting to get into the middle class could not be higher. “

Later in his speech–which was on the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis–Obama said that Republicans are the problem.

“The problem is at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class,” he said. ” I say ‘at the moment’ because I’m still hoping that a light bulb goes off here.”

Republicans are pushing for deeper cuts in American infrastructure and education, which would gut America’s scientific research and development and the already aging roads, bridges, schools, and energy grid.

While Obama agrees some cuts are necessary, he wants to see a budget pass and the so-called sequester end.

Obama said in an interview on September 15 on ABC that the Americans in the middle class and lower in the economy haven’t seen wage or income growth over the last 15 years.

A study by the University of California, Berkeley (pdf) was cited by the host of the show, George Stephanopoulos, that found 95 percent of the income gains from 2009 through 2012 went to the top 1 percent of the population.

Obama said at the end of his speech that he would be continue working for income equality.

“And as long as I’ve got the privilege of serving as your President, I will spend every moment of every day I have left fighting to restore security and opportunity for the middle class, and to give everyone who works hard a chance to get ahead,” he said.