Despite many other issues facing the nation, the biggest issue the American people have to worry about is still the economy.
Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the American middle class has seen itself decimated, nothing more than a shell of what it used to be three decades ago. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the economy was at its lowest point since the Great Depression of the 1930s and the dreams a quick recovery were in the minds of millions. After five years, President Obama has faced the reality of a Republican dominated congress that refuses to cooperate, opting to watch the economy flounder than work with the president to make an improvement.
During an interview this weekend with ABC News, President Obama was asked by host George Stephanopolous about the rising income inequality in the United States. The president stated that he did believe that a president came make a difference, but he did acknowledge and point out the difficulty of working with an extreme partisan congress.
"The problem is that there continues to be a major debate here in Washington. And that is, how do we respond to these underlying trends? All those things can make the situation better, it doesn't solve the problem entirely, but it pushes against these trends...And the problem that we've got right now is you've got a portion of Congress whose policies don’t just want to leave things alone, they actually want to accelerate these trends.
There’s no serious economist out there that would suggest that if you took the Republican agenda of slashing education further, slashing Medicare further, slashing research and development further, slashing investments in infrastructure further, that that would reverse some of these trends.”
Ever since the start of the Reagan administration, the wealthiest Americans have seen their incomes explode while working Americans have watched their wages remain nearly stagnant. According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the disparity in wealth in the United States and around the world is at its highest level of income inequality in more than three decades.
"Overall, inequality among working Americans has risen 25 percent since 1980, the report said. In 2008, the average annual income of the top 10 percent of Americans was $114,000, nearly 15 times higher than that of the bottom 10 percent.
That finding is consistent with other studies documenting the widening economic gulf, which has become a growing political issue in the United States.
The share of income going to the nation’s richest 1 percent more than doubled between 1980 and 2008, rising from 8 percent to 18 percent, the report said. The richest 1 percent of Americans make an average of $1.3 million in after-tax income, compared with $17,700 for the bottom 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the top federal income tax rate has fallen from 70 percent in 1981 to 35 percent, the report said."
President Obama was right when he said some members of congress are making things difficult. If the economy is going to continue to move forward but in a way that works for all Americans, partisan politics need to be put aside. The problem is that partisan politics from both sides of the aisle is inevitable and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.