Today President Obama commemorated the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers by addressing the state of the American economy. Obama reiterated his commitment to a “Grand Bargain” cutting Social Security and Medicare as well as repeating the dubious claim that the economy has “recovered.” But one fact President Obama did acknowledge is that most of the gains from the “recovery” went to the top 1%.
A point he addressed Sunday in an interview with ABC.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: 95% of the gains to the top 1%. That is so striking.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It– it is. And the folks– at– in the middle and at the bottom haven’t seen– wage or– income growth, not just over the last three, four years, but over the last 15 years. And so everything that I’ve done has been designed to, number one, stabilize the economy, get it growing again, start producing jobs again, number two, trying to push against these trends that had been happening for decades now…
That’s why we strengthened the entire banking system so that, you know, “too big to fail” is far less likely to be in place– if, heaven forbid, there’s a crisis the next time. Because we’ve said, you know, “Banks, you’ve gotta double the amount of capital that you have so that you can absorb losses when you have ‘em, so taxpayers aren’t bailin’ you out. If you do– start goin’ under– you’ve gotta have a plan– a living will, we call it, so that we don’t have to come in and clean up after you. You’re gonna be on your own.”
That is a rather amazing statement. By strengthening Wall Street Obama will “push against” the trends that led to 95% of the gains to the top 1%? Apparently our president doesn’t understand that empowering Wall Street is one of the reasons for such high inequality.
And to his point that it will “create jobs” that also isn’t true given the evidence we now have.
The gap in employment rates between America’s highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago, according to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press.
Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families – those earning less than $20,000 – have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression.
This while Wall Street is as profitable and strong as ever. If Obama’s thesis was correct we would have more jobs and less inequality – it isn’t. In fact the opposite is true, we have record inequality in wealth and employment.