Obama: Inequality Gap Between Ultra-Rich And The Rest Of America Drags Down The Economy

“What drags down our entire economy is the growing gap between the ultra-rich and everyone else.” Prepared excerpts from his speech today.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

President Barack Obama will launch into a scathing critique of “trickle-down economics” during an official stop on a day-long fundraising swing through Florida this afternoon.

Obama, who is promoting his “Buffett Rule” which would set a minimum effective tax rate for millionaires and billionaires, will blame the slow pace of economic recovery at least in part on the widening income gap between the middle class and the wealthiest in society.

“What drags down our entire economy is the growing gap between the ultra-rich and everyone else,” Obama will say.

“In this country, prosperity has never trickled-down from a wealthy few. Prosperity has always come from a strong and growing middle class,” the prepared remarks continue.

Obama will seek to frame the issue as a choice between tax breaks for the wealthy and benefits to students and the elderly.

“When we guarantee basic security for the elderly or the sick or those who are actively looking for work, that doesn’t make us weak. What makes us weak is when fewer Americans can afford to buy the products our business are selling, or start a business of their own,” Obama will say.

The inequality argument has already drawn fire from conservatives on Twitter, but is one that the Obama campaign believes will resonate with the American people.

Read the full excerpts below:

“So let me you ask you: what’s a better way to make our economy stronger? Giving another $150,000 tax break to every millionaire and billionaire in the country? Or making investments in education and research and health care and our veterans?

Right now, the share of our national income flowing to the top 1% has climbed to levels last seen in the 1920s. And yet those same people are also paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years. You might have heard this, but Warren Buffett is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.

That’s wrong. It isn’t fair. And it’s time for us to choose which direction we want to go in as a country. Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? That’s the choice.

I’ve told you where I stand. Now it’s time for Members of Congress to do the same. In the next few weeks, they’re going to vote on something called the Buffett Rule: If you make more than $1 million every year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year – like 98 percent of American families do – your taxes shouldn’t go up. It’s that simple.”



“These investments – in things like education and research and health care – haven’t been made as part of some scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another. They’ve been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations because they benefit all of us, and lead to strong, durable economic growth.

If you’re here at FAU because you got financial aid or a student loan or a scholarship, which is how I was able to go to college, that doesn’t just benefit you. It benefits whatever company might profit from the skills you’ve learned here. If one of you goes on to become the next Steve Jobs, or discovers a medical breakthrough, think about all the people whose lives you’ll change for the better.

When we guarantee basic security for the elderly or the sick or those who are actively looking for work, that doesn’t make us weak. What makes us weak is when fewer Americans can afford to buy the products our business are selling, or start a business of their own. What drags down our entire economy is the growing gap between the ultra-rich and everyone else.

In this country, prosperity has never trickled-down from a wealthy few. Prosperity has always come from a strong and growing middle class. That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill – including my grandfather – helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made a point to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. America isn’t about a few people doing well. It’s about giving everyone the chance to do well.”

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