But inequality is, well, kind of a big topic — as Obama himself acknowledges. It would require a gigantic response, cutting across a broad swath of issues, everything from education and tax policy to wages, job skills and even the quality of the jobs themselves.
And it comes at a time when Washington is in no mood for a gigantic response to anything. Right now, lawmakers are just happy that they’re about to fund the government for the rest of the year without a huge fight — a task that used to be considered the bare minimum in their job description. And the bumpy Obamacare rollout hasn’t exactly made anyone more eager to take on big problems.
Economic inequality is “about as big a problem as you can get,” said Keith Hennessey, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush. And given that description, it’s hard to think of a problem that is more unlikely to be addressed effectively within the current status quo on Capitol Hill.
Really, the theme is so broad that Obama could link it to just about any proposal in his State of the Union address, so liberal policy experts say it’s best just to think of it as a framing device rather than a true policy goal.