President Obama has called the growing income gap, “the defining challenge of our time.” Yesterday he said that Washington’s job is to reverse the trends to restore the basic promise of America.
The president said in his State of the Union that one basic belief unites all Americans, “that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead in America. Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows.”
The president offered a set of proposals to reverse what he saw as deepening inequality and stalled upward mobility, but added that “it won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.”
The disagreement came quickly in the Republican response from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington, who said, “The President talks a lot about income inequality, but the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality. And with this administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide.”
Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with two economists with opposing views on income inequality: Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and former top economic adviser to President Obama, and David Henderson, professor of economics at the Naval Post Graduate School and fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
In a speech Krueger gave recently, he said, “we have reached the point where inequality is hurting the economy,” while Henderson wrote in a recent paper that “The entire focus on income inequality is mistaken.”