An article in yesterday’s New York Times, “Obama Says Income Gap Is Fraying U.S. Social Fabric”, quotes the President that “If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should. Income inequality will continue to rise. That’s not a future that we should accept.” He says that “I will seize any opportunity I can to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security.”
A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, “The Inequality President”, shows with a chart that median household incomes have fallen from $54,218 in June 2009 as the recession ended to $51,500 in May 2013. As the WSJ says, “For four and a half years, Mr. Obama has focused his policies on reducing inequality rather than increasing growth. The predictable result has been more inequality and less growth. … The rich have done well in the last few years, thanks to a rising stock market, but the middle class and poor have not.”
There are many things that Congress and the President could do to boost the economy if they were willing to work together and compromise. Obamacare doesn’t need to be repealed, just modified by dropping the employer mandate which is a job killer. Broad based tax reform, with lower tax rates, paid for by eliminating tax preferences, would be a big boost to investment, risk taking and entrepreneurship. A reasonable compromise would be to use a part of the revenue raised from eliminating loopholes for deficit reduction.
But little progress will be made unless the President is willing to show leadership by rising above partisanship. There are all sorts of ways he could do this. One simple way would be to show that he understands the seriousness of the rapidly growing national debt by supporting some of the many thoughtful proposals for more government efficiency.
A large majority of people want our first African-American President to be successful. But right now he is not on track to achieve this.