President Barack Obama's recent comments about income inequality are providing more fuel to the debate over whether the government can really do anything to reduce it, but perhaps the bigger question is: Do voters really want them to?
"I think the president can stop it," Obama said Sunday on ABC's "This Week," when asked about the top 1 percent capturing most of the country's income gains. The problem, he said, is "you've got a portion of Congress whose policies … just want to, you know, leave things alone, they actually want to accelerate these trends."
It's easy to blame the other party for deeper economic problems, of course. But the president's comments are on the minds of economists and policymakers.
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Many argue inequality is an unavoidable byproduct of growth—a function of investors and entrepreneurs benefiting from successful demand for their products and value creation in financial markets. Inequality rose quickly during economic expansions (1980s and 1990s) and declined during the most recent recession. In other words, the wealthy gain more during good times and lose more during bad times.