Obama Urges Steps to Resolve Income Inequality

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from The Wall Street Journal,

President Calls on Congress to Increase Minimum Wage.

President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday to focus his final three years in office on income inequality in the U.S., calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage and defending the government’s role in boosting economic mobility.

“I take this personally,” Mr. Obama said at a speech hosted by a think tank closely aligned to the White House, noting that members of his family have benefited from government programs.

It is “what drives me as a grandson, a son, a father—as an American.” He said that rising income inequality and decreased economic mobility “pose a fundamental threat” to American prosperity.

The economic agenda he detailed pushes a number of liberal priorities popular with the Democratic base.

Mr. Obama called for eased rules for union organizers, passage of a budget that combines stimulus spending with long-term deficit reduction measures, expanded government programs for children and new antidiscrimination laws.

Republicans said the president was trying to distract attention from the problems of the health law and criticized many of the policy elements in Mr. Obama’s speech.

“They promote government reliance rather than economic mobility,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).

“Rather than tackling income inequality by lifting people up, he’s been fixated on taxing some down,” added Mr. Buck in a blog post.

Republicans said a better course would be to promote school choice, approve stalled natural-resource projects and adopt other programs typically favored by the GOP.

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