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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

President Obama made the case that expanding opportunity for the middle class has become the key goal of his administration. He vowed he would continue to pursue it for the remainder of his time in office by reducing inequality, in his speech at The Center for American Progress on Wednesday.

The president began by summing up the birth and growth of America’s middle class, leading up to the subtle unraveling of the “social compact” in the late 1970s, which has now brought us to a state of inequality not seen since before the Great Depression.

“As values of community broke down and competitive pressure increased, businesses lobbied Washington to weaken unions and the value of the minimum wage,” he said. “As the trickle-down ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthiest while investments in things that make us all richer, like schools and infrastructure, were allowed to wither.”

To illustrate how the rapid transfer of wealth since that time not only was stifling the economy but putting a strain on democracy itself, the president used the five statistics that follow.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

1. Productivity Gains Dwarf Income Gains

“Since 1979, when I graduated from high school, our productivity is up by more than 90 percent, but the income of the typical family has increased by less than 8 percent.”

EPI-top-charts-2012-13.png.608

Source: Economic Policy Institute

2. Richest Getting Richer

“Since 1979 our economy has more than doubled in size, but most of the growth has flowed to a fortunate few. The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income; it now takes half.”

10economix-sub-wealth-blog480

Source: The New York Times

3. Executive Compensation Exploding

“Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more.”

EPI_CEO_Worker_Pay_Ratio

Source: Economic Policy Institute

4. Unprecedented Inequality

“And meanwhile, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country.”

120910110833-chart-average-wealth-monster

Source: Economic Policy Institute

5. Crushing Lack Of Upward Mobility

“A child born in the top 20 percent has about a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top. A child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top. He’s 10 times likelier to stay where he is.”

screen shot 2013-07-22 at 9.39.56 am

Source: Miles Corak via Business Insider

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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