Matt Stoller writes: Yesterday, the President gave a speech in which he demanded that Congress raise taxes on millionaires, as a way to somewhat recalibrate the nation’s wealth distribution. His advisors, like Gene Sperling, are giving speeches talking about the need for manufacturing. A common question in DC is whether this populist pose will help him win the election. Perhaps it will. Perhaps not. Romney is a weak candidate, cartoonishly wealthy and from what I’ve seen, pretty inept. But on policy, there’s a more interesting question.
A better puzzle to wrestle with is why President Obama is able to continue to speak as if his administration has not presided over a significant expansion of income redistribution upward. The data on inequality shows that his policies are not incrementally better than those of his predecessor, or that we’re making progress too slowly, as liberal Democrats like to argue. It doesn’t even show that the outcome is the same as Bush’s. No, look at this table, from Emmanuel Saez (h/t Ian Welsh). Check out those two red circles I added.
Yup, under Bush, the 1% captured a disproportionate share of the income gains from the Bush boom of 2002-2007. They got 65 cents of every dollar created in that boom, up 20 cents from when Clinton was President. Under Obama, the 1% got 93 cents of every dollar created in that boom. That’s not only more than under Bush, up 28 cents. In the transition from Bush to Obama, inequality got worse, faster, than under the transition from Clinton to Bush. Obama accelerated the growth of inequality.