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When President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address Tuesday, it is widely expected that he will focus on income inequality, making it a top-of-the-agenda item for this year and the remainder of his term. In his December speech hosted by the Center for American Progress, the president likely offered a preview of his message as he argued that a strong middle class helps drive economic growth:
We need to dispel the myth that the goals of growing the economy and reducing inequality are necessarily in conflict, when they should actually work in concert. We know from our history that our economy grows best from the middle out, when growth is more widely shared. And we know that beyond a certain level of inequality, growth actually slows altogether.
As the consensus to build an economy that works for everyone and not just the wealthy grows, we believe that there are a few key policies that the president should call for that would begin to roll back income inequality in both the short and long term. While these policies by no means represent all that must be done to address inequality—such as protecting workers’ rights on the job, improving regulation of financial markets, and limiting the corrosive influence of money in politics, to name a few—they represent new, common-sense approaches that could enjoy broad support and help restore an economy that works for everyone.
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Senior Vice President, Structural Reform and Governance; Senior Fellow