Policy: Economy

Obama to urge Congress to 'reverse these tides' of inequality

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,PennAve,Economy,Income Inequality

President Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday will call on Washington to win back the trust of a disillusioned public, urging leaders to “reverse these tides” of income inequality, according to early excerpts of his speech released by the White House.

“Inequality has deepened,” Obama will tell both chambers of Congress. “Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by - let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all.”

The White House has already signaled that Obama will announce an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour.

But the president will argue that this lone measure doesn’t go far enough to combat the gap in pay between the wealthiest Americans and low-income people.

“Our job is to reverse these tides,” the president will tell lawmakers. “It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”

The president will outline a series of executive actions on the economy, measures that Republicans dismiss as executive overreach -- but actions Obama will defend as necessary in the face of GOP obstructionism.

“America does not stand still – and neither will I,” Obama will say, according to excerpts of his address. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Here are additional passages of Obama’s speech released by the White House:

“In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all – the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.”

“Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the great recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.”

“Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged.”

“Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.”

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