About two decades later, as Obama began his presidential campaign, he met with a group of economic advisers to craft his policy. Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist, arrived for a meeting near Union Station with a stack of slides on inequality to show the candidate.
One slide, “Growing Together vs. Growing Apart,” documented how the income of top earners had once climbed at about the same pace as every other category, but had sharply diverged in the previous 30 years. Another showed that the value of a college degree, always lucrative, had soared as a financial advantage. A third showed the startling drop in the demand for workers — in auto factories and clerical positions — who were being replaced by computers and machines.
Altogether, the slides conveyed the thesis that Katz and another economist, Claudia Goldin, had recently documented— that increasingly sophisticated technology required more educated workers, who subsequently could capture more of the nation’s income. Over the following months, in interviews with reporters, and in his campaign policies, Obama would take aim at precisely those challenges.