Obama: Income inequality a defining challenge

President calls on Congress to increase minimum wage to $10.10 an hour
Associated Press
Dec 5, 2013

President Barack Obama prodded Congress to raise wages and secure the social safety net as he issued an overarching appeal Wednesday to correct inequalities that he said make it harder for a child in the United States to escape poverty. "That should offend all of us," he declared. "We are a better country than this."

Focusing on the pocketbook issues that Americans consistently rank as a top concern, Obama argued that the dream of upward economic mobility is breaking down and that the growing income gap is a "defining challenge of our time."

"The basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed," the president said in remarks at a nonprofit community center a short drive from the White House in one of Washington's most impoverished neighborhoods.

Though he offered no new initiatives, Obama blended a call for Congress to act on pending short-term economic measures with a long vision aimed at correcting a growing level of income inequality in the United States. The speech came amid public doubts over Obama's stewardship of the economy, as his overall approval ratings sink and as he seeks to move past the health care troubles that have consumed his presidency in recent months.

He acknowledged his administration's "poor execution" in rolling out the flawed website that was supposed to be an easy portal for purchasing insurance, while blaming Republicans for a "reckless" shutdown of the government.

"Nobody has acquitted themselves very well these past few months," Obama said. "So it's not surprising that the American people's frustrations with Washington are at an all-time high." Worse for Americans, he added, are their growing difficulties in trying to make ends meet no matter how hard they work.

The speech coincided with growing national and international attention to economic disparities — from the writings of Pope Francis to the protests of fast-food workers in the U.S. The president cited the pope's question of how it isn't news when an elderly homeless person dies from exposure, but news when the stock market loses two points.

And he noted that in the United States, a child born into the bottom 20 percent of income levels has less than a 5 percent chance of making it to the top income levels and is 10 times likelier to stay where he is — worse than other industrial countries such as Canada, Germany and France.

House Speaker John Boehner blamed Senate Democrats and Obama for the lack of action on jobs-related legislation. He said bills passed by the Republican-controlled House that would help the economy and create jobs have been blocked in the Democratic-controlled Senate. "The Senate and the president continue to stand in the way of the people's priorities," he said on the House floor.

Obama conceded that "the elephant in the room" is the political gridlock that has prevented congressional action. He said issues of inequality of upward mobility would not likely be resolved even over the next five years. But he pointed to the health care law as one example that he said is already helping families by providing insurance coverage to more Americans and by pushing down the costs of health care.

Obama specifically called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. A Democratic bill by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in three steps and tie automatic annual increases to changes in the cost of living. No vote has been scheduled on the proposal.

Obama also pressed Congress to extend jobless benefits to 1.3 million long-term unemployed people. The benefits are set to expire just three days after Christmas. The additional weeks of benefits have been extended each year since 2009, but a senior Republican lawmaker, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said Tuesday that Republicans oppose yet another extension.



Creating jobs is not his job - it's the private sector's job, but he keeps strangling the private sector.


Re: "everything Obama has done to create jobs."

You mean like:

"Sh..shovel ready wasn't as eh...shovel ready as we expected"?


BTW: Where's his "Jobs Council" these days?

Darwin's choice

Nice try.

More lies from a blind follower.

Reality is people are finally seeing this failure for what he is, and his, and your, continued blaming anyone else for his failures, is pathetic.

Keep shoveling though......

History will show this President as an utter failure.


This isn't just about minimum wage workers. Raising the minimum wage, especially by this amount, affects every companies wage scale. The $10 guy then gets $12, $11 gets $13, so on and so on. There are too many struggling busineses to support this.

Dr. Information

What will he accomplish from this? Simple. Prices what will increase and be passed down to the consumer. When you run your own business, then you can talk about whats fair and not fair. The government (IRS) strips so much from business's that many small locally run places cannot afford to pay employees much more in order to keep prices down.

The math is simple. If you have 2 employees making 8.10 an hour and work 40 hours a week and work 50 weeks a year, and you are forced to bump them up to 10.10 an hour, that is $8,000 more a year you are paying out. Small business owners who profit margin is already low, will not just absorb these costs. They will be passed down.

Good old attention disorder Obama is at it again. One week its Obamacare, then next its immigration, the next is jobs and pay, whats next? We will see once he pulls out his next mystery out of the hat topic to "talk about".


"that is $8,000 more.." Minimum. Don't forget the employers increase in matching tax dollars as well as increases to SSI, FICA, ODJFS, workers comp. That $8000 has probably been blown up to $12,000 to $15,000.

Dr. Information

Exactly and I was waiting form someone to post exactly what you did.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You beat me to it, but good catch. There are probably other ramifications that magnify as the wages are adjusted elsewhere. If the guy making $14 was also getting a 401(k) match, stock options, or some kind of other compensation he may lose that to go to $16 an hour. Or he stays at $14 and keeps it with the new base wage being over $10 which will be eroded into by an increase in the cost of goods and services.

The money has to come from somewhere, it doesn't magically manifest. Many who rail against big business may not be aware that they have fiduciary responsibilities to their stockholders to be profitable and conduct an efficient, reliable business model. They could face legal penalties for not doing so! So the tear is where does one suppose the money should go? To whom does the money in the till belong? The business, the stockholders, or the employees?

Really are you ...

You know what I hate? I am not as young as I use to be. Companies would rather hire the 20 something's. I have started to start over 3 times already. Each time starting off at the bottom trying to work my way up. To sorry we are leaving for whatever reason serves a community backbone companies purpose. Then starting over and being taxed to Haties and back, taxed before you cash your check and taxed when you spend your money. That $8.50 an hour is more like $6.00 an hour. So at $6.00 an hour, you have to work for 100 hours to pay rent, 60 hours to pay for the car, 10 hours for electricity... O' and everything is increasing in price even without a $10.10 minimum wage.


The defining challenge of our time is to see if this country can survive this empty suit's policies before we get a chance to replace him in 2016. I'd say it's less than 50/50 at this point.

Really are you ...

How much do you think your time spent working for someone else is worth to you? If want 1 penny for every second you work for a company, that is $36.00 an hour, or a little over $72,000.00a year.


employers don't care what you're worth and will never pay as such; they just want bodies that will produce and run their businesses and make them money. bottom line. robots in other words.


A supply & demand question:

A vendor is selling apples for $1.00 ea.

The govt. says that the vendor must sell them for $1.50 ea.

Will the vendor sell more or fewer apples?

Really are you ...

How can the gov't dictate how much a vendor sells an item for? When they can't even manage this country. The gov't is letting our average or better than average paying jobs go for cheaper wages and tax loopholes. How can they justify an increase in a vendors lower price? Beating down the little guy?


It is amazing how the republican party has brainwashed their followers into thinking that the rich deserve more money and the poor and middle class deserve less. Just shows how easy some people can be manipulated!!


Conversely: It is amazing how the Democrat Party has brainwashed their followers into thinking that one's compensation should be determined by the State in the name of "fairness."


Most business owners fall into the middle class category. I thought you lefties were all for the middle class? Let me guess, you as is the case with other lefties are decreasing the amount of income that is considered middle class in order to make a point? By Obama's standard of $250K 85% of business owners in the US would be middle class. Seems to me that the Repubs are sticking up for the middle class and Dems are just trying to legislate more freebies for the unproductive class.


Like it or not we will pay 1 way or another. Examine any country any time in history that once knew a robust economy. Look what happens when everyday folk watch their hard efforts wane to naught. The results are grim. How many more people in your area on needed help, i.e, medical, food, heat, etc. Figures don't lie but liars figure.


Re: "Examine any country any time in history that once knew a robust economy."

Usually squandered by the wealthy political elite (nomenklatura).

And how is it that the majority of wealthy counties in the U.S. surround DC?

And why are 7 of the 10 richest members of Congress Democrats?

The progressive-socialists say:

Just let us take your assets and WE'LL see that they are distributed fairly and equitably. lol

Look over here...No...look over there...No...look over here, etc.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm


Its all a vicious catch 22. Raise the minimum wage because the price of survival is too high. Then you have to raise the price of goods because the price of labor is too high. There's no winning this one.


Re: "raise the price of goods,"

Price/wage spiral.



Why is it any of the government's business what the transfer price is between a willing seller of services and a willing buyer of services? The existance of a minimum wage only causes buyers and sellers of sevices under that wage to pay under the table.


“I promise 100% transparency in my administration.”.
“I promise NO NEW TAXES on a family making less than $250K a year.”.
“I will allow 5 days of public comment before I sign any bills.”.
“I will remove earmarks from PORK projects before I sign any bill.”.
“I will end Income Tax for seniors making less than $50K a year.”
“I will bring ALL of our troops home within ONE year.”
“I’ll put the Health Care negotiations on CSPAN so everyone can see who is at the table!”.
“I’ll have no lobbyists in my administration.”
“I’ll close Guantanamo.”
“I’ll resign if I don’t cut the deficit in half by the end of four years.”
“I’ll unite the people of this great country.”
“I will put an end to the type of politics that “breeds division, conflict and cynicism”.
“I have Shovel-Ready Jobs.”
“Whistle blowers will be protected in my administration.”
“I Barrack Hussain Obama pledge to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”
“If you like your health Insurance you can keep it, PERIOD!”

Darwin's choice

You forgot one:

"I'm full of Chit"


I was once told that an employer who pays $10 an hour to his employees is actually paying $17 an hour. This being that employee benefits (vacation, hospitilization, etc) actually adds 70% to what the employee is paid. In the case of a job with no benefits, of course this doesn't apply.


If there are no benefits it may not add up to 70% but as I indicated earlier the employer pays additional percentages of employee withholdings. So, if the employee makes more and has more fed tax taken out then the employer must pay more as well. Now use that reasoning with FICA, SSI, ODJFS (unemployment) workers comp etc and you can see that the employers numbers contributions increase significantly.

Stop It

I was on the management end a few times. Hire and fire and whatnot. We charged $70.00 per hour per non union *skilled trade* employee. They were lucky to get $16.00 of that per hour. We are not talking low skills. They were certified welders and mechanics.


Winnie I feel Alice Cooper spoke about in his song, Gimmie. Kneel down pooh.


Re: "Alice Cooper spoke about in his song"

Only in your crazy delusion kurtie, only in your crazy delusion.