December 03, 2013, 04:50 pm
Obama to address income inequality
By Justin Sink
President Obama will cast growing income inequality and a decline in economic mobility as a “fundamental threat to the American dream” during a speech Wednesday in Washington.
The speech will serve as an early preview for next year’s State of the Union address, according to a White House official, who said Obama would focus much of his energy over the next three years on the issue.
“The decisions we make over the next few years will determine whether or not our children will grow up in an America where, if you work hard, you can get ahead,” the official said.
In his last State of the Union address, Obama made several proposals that were intended to help the poor and reduce economic equality, but few have gained any traction.
The president called for hiking the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour, and for providing universal access to prekindergarten education for all 4-year-olds.
But the White House itself has spent most of the year focused on other issues, including immigration reform, gun control and battles with Congress over government funding.
Wednesday’s event will take place in Anacostia, a predominantly African-American section of Washington, D.C., with a high unemployment rate.
The event will be sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank founded by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. The group is now run by Neera Tanden, who served as a senior advisor on health care reform in the Obama Administration.
Obama’s new focus on income inequality comes amid increased conversation about economic trends that might be exacerbating income gaps, including a rising stock market helping wealthier households, and a sluggish job market making it difficult for many others to find jobs.
The president will also use the remarks to comment on the Affordable Care Act, as the White House hopes to rally interest in the law.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed questions about whether the event — focused primarily on the economy — could create "whiplash" on the heels of the president's attempt to reboot messaging on ObamaCare.
“Healthcare security is an element of economic security, so they are interrelated,” Carney said, adding that the economy was an “elemental” issue for most Americans.