President Obama Sets the Record Straight
On Tuesday, President Obama made a major speech from Osawatomie, Kansas on what he called the “most defining issue of our time:” restoring growth and prosperity for all Americans. Taking aim at the alarming growth of income inequality in this country, his speech hit on many themes lifted up in our framing paper, America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model. Here are my relections:
- A perfect diagnosis of the problem. Our economic model is broken: the middle class is shrinking and economic opportunity has dimmed. The Occupy movement gave voice and action to our national unease: an economy that benefits the few and exploits the many is unfair and unjust. Inequality is not only a moral issue, but also an economic one. Inequality is not only bad for those at the bottom; it is bad for everyone. The one percent depend on the 99 percent: who else would patronize their stores and buy their services? To put it simply: we all do better when we all do better.
- A fine start on solutions. We must advance policies that foster an economy that works for everyone. This means getting our financial house in order and setting up a tax structure that allows us to make investments in the infrastructure and education we need to secure the nation’s economic future in the global economy.
- Don’t forget America’s Tomorrow. We are quickly becoming a majority people-of-color nation and yet there remain wide disparities. Among children born poor in 1968, 45 percent of white children climbed to the middle class or beyond, but only 26 percent of black children experienced the same upward mobility. A successful economic growth strategy will pay particular to communities of color who’ve never had a fair shot at making it into the middle class and were hit first and worst by foreclosures and the economic crisis. Their future is our future: we must make choices that allow them to reach their economic potential.
We applaud the President for shining a light on these very important issues, and making clear what must be done to secure a bright and equitable future for everyone.