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Obama seeks to do something with a do-nothing Congress

George Curry | 2/3/2014, 6:48 a.m.
President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night, parts of which were shared over the weekend, was designed to ...
George Curry

In a break from his normal over cautiousness, Obama acknowledged that race may be a factor in the strong oppositions to his programs.

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama told the New Yorker magazine in an interview. “There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues.”

Obama is not the only one who thinks race drives many of his opponents. A Rasmussen poll last November found: “One-in-four voters believes racism is the driving factor behind opposition to his [Obama’s] policies.”

While Obama is unlikely to make any progress on race, he hopes that anger over huge corporate profits and record Wall Street gains will be a rallying point for both Democrats and Republicans.

According to the Tax Policy Center, the top fifth of the population receives 66 percent of tax-expenditure benefits, the middle 60 percent of the population receives a little more than 31 percent of tax-expenditure benefits, the bottom fifth receives just 2.8 percent of tax-expenditure benefits and the top 1 percent of the population receives 23.9 percent of tax-expenditure benefits. And the report pointed out, “That’s more than eight times as much as the bottom fifth of the population, and nearly as much as the middle 60 percent of the population.”

Republicans, traditional protectors of the rich, aren’t likely to join Obama in trying to narrow the gap between rich and poor. And they’re even less likely to do so in a mid-term election year, a time the party in power usually loses seats in Congress.

George E. Curry is the editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. He can be reached through http://www.georgecurry.com.