*As part of his effort to put the focus back on the economy, and building the middle class, President Obama spoke with with the NY Times.
He expressed his worry that years of widening income inequality and the lingering effects of the financial crisis had frayed the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.
Upward mobility, the president said, “was part and parcel of who we were as Americans.”
He also tied it into racial tension increasing after the George Zimmerman verdict.
“And that’s what’s been eroding over the last 20, 30 years, well before the financial crisis,” he added.
“If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should. Income inequality will continue to rise,” he said. “That’s not a future that we should accept.”
A few days after the acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case prompted him to speak about being a black man in America, Mr. Obama said the country’s struggle over race would not be eased until the political process in Washington began addressing the fear of many people that financial stability is unattainable.
“Racial tensions won’t get better; they may get worse, because people will feel as if they’ve got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot,” Mr. Obama said. “If the economy is growing, everybody feels invested. Everybody feels as if we’re rolling in the same direction.”
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