Obama is shrewdly characterizing the recession in a way that breeds resentment towards the wealthy, diverting dissatisfaction away from himself. Most of his recent speeches include assertions that there are a few Americans getting rich, while everyone else is suffering. “The notion that we would ask sacrifice from folks who are already struggling in order to protect folks who have never been better -- never been better off -- that's not who we are,” he said in one recent speech. Obama knows that if he can direct Americans’ unhappiness over the economy towards “the rich,” he might win reelection.
The problem is this is not accurate. During recessions, it is typical for the incomes of the rich to fall faster than the middle class. Of the millionaires you know, how many of them are now struggling financially? The only Americans who appear to be getting richer are government employees. Obama uses slick accounting gimmicks to back up his claim that the rich are getting richer.
The recession has not increased income inequality. The number of millionaires in the US has declined by 39 percent since 2007, and the so-called super rich, Americans making more than $10 million per year, has fallen by 55 percent. Even the liberal New York Times recently admitted that the rich have become poorer since Obama took office.
The most recent data from the IRS reveals that between 2007 and 2009, income of those in the 99th percentile income bracket fell from $410,096 to $343,927. The 99.9th percentile income fell from $2,155,365 to $1,432,890. The top one percent’s income, which mostly climbed throughout the 2000s, has fallen to lower levels than in 2000. The top one percent earned only 16.9 percent of all adjusted gross income last year, down from 20 percent in 2008.
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