April 13, 2012 at 09:00 AM EDT
President Obama’s Record, Results and Agenda on Income Inequality
“This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.” -- Remarks  by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas, December 6, 2011 The President has been focused on working to ensure an America that grows together, rather than one in which the gains go disproportionately to the wealthy. His policies have already made a real contribution to achieving this ideal—benefiting millions of people, principally middle-class Americans and those struggling to get into the middle class—and he continues to push tirelessly for policies, including the Buffett Rule, that will help us get closer. The best available data on incomes refute the baseless claim recently made by some that income inequality is worse under President Obama than it was under President George W. Bush. More fundamentally, whereas the previous Administration’s policies were tilted towards the wealthiest Americans, President Obama has been focused on the middle class and those working to get into the middle class. Inequality Was Worse Under President Bush than Under President Obama According to the latest data  from economist Emmanuel Saez, when the last economic expansion ended in 2007, the fraction of income going to the top 1 percent was the highest since 1928 and the fraction of income going to the top 0.1 percent was the highest ever recorded (the data go back to 1913). The share of income going to the very top remains high, but has come down and was lower in both 2009 and 2010 than in any year from 2005 through 2008.   It is difficult to evaluate changes in inequality over very short periods of time, especially when these coincide with a deep recession and dramatic fluctuations in equity prices. But there is no basis in the data for claiming that inequality under President Obama is greater than the historic levels reached under President Bush. Any suggestion to the contrary is based on a combination of ignoring the most obvious facts and treating the dramatic recovery of the stock market in 2009 and 2010 as if it tells a deeper structural story about the economy. read more
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