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State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade

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Source: The Nation


President Obama wants 2014 to be a "year of action" in which the country finally begins to address a wealth gap that has made the term "income inequality" the catchphrase of the moment. And he framed the crisis well in his fifth State of the Union address:

"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. Inequality has deepened. 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."

But Tuesday night was not the first time that he explained the problem in the right way.

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He did precisely that six years ago -- speaking specifically about inequality and declaring that government had an ability and a responsibility to address it aggressively and unapologetically.

Obama's ability to identify the crisis, and his willingness to speak in blunter terms than his political opponents about its repercussions, got him elected president. By a landslide.

Now, after a year of wrangling with an uncooperative Congress and at the start of a critical mid-term election year, Obama is trying to renew the political calculus that convinced Americans he was the right leader for the country -- and that it was right to provide him with the solid Democratic majorities in the House and Senate that would allow him to turn rhetoric into action.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about (more...)
 

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