Spotlight Exclusives

Taking on Inequality: SOTU, Campaigns and the Media

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As loyal OOTS readers know, economic inequality has been elevated from a major concern among economists and researchers to a defining topic of social and political debate.  That۪s why OOTS was excited to see President Obama devote significant time to the topic in last week۪s State of the Union Address.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


The president isn۪t the first major political figure to address this topic head on.  In fact, right around the Iowa Caucuses, OOTS pointed out that pundits attributed much of Rick Santorum۪s surge to his focus on economic mobility, among other topics.


The truth is that comments by President Obama and the Republican primary candidates are part of a growing trend.  Earlier this month, an event hosted by Spotlight entitled “The Politics of Economic Opportunity: Will Growing Poverty Affect Election 2012?” featured several media and political commentators who spoke to the continuing relevance of the issue. 


In the words of panelist Celinda Lake, a leading Democratic pollster, “This is the biggest wave that’s come along in a long time, this notion of economic inequality, this notion of the economy not working for the people who work hard.  It’s the disappearing middle class and disappearing American dream.”


Panelist Michael Gerson, an op-ed columnist at The Washington Post, agreed,stating “We have now engaged in a large national debate about the nature of justice, the reality of inequality, the role of government. Big arguments that relate to all of these issues.”  Following the event, Gerson expanded on these ideas in a column entitled “The Americans no one wants to talk about.”


It۪s clear after the State of the Union that this is also a top of mind issue at the White House.  Referencing the country۪s mindset after World War II, President Obama described what he called the American “promise” that, by working hard, one could raise a family, put kids through college and even save for retirement. He continued by stating “The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

OOTS couldn۪t be happier to see that a national focus on economic inequality from the media to the candidates to the president appears to be here to stay.  As the 2012 election approaches and campaigns continue to discuss these issues, stay tuned to Spotlight۪s Election Page to find out what the presidential candidates say about this important topic.

Posted by Jodie

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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