Vice President Joe Biden appeared to criticize former President Bill Clinton's administration, saying the middle class declined "all through the '90s," The Washington Times reported.
"The middle class started to get into trouble in the late '80s, all through the '90s —
with the exception of two years, the middle class was declining," Biden told an audience of unionized teachers in Washington.
His comments were seen by the Times as a "swipe" at Clinton, who was president from 1993 to 2001, and at possible presidential rival Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton was preceded as president by George H.W. Bush.
"The bridge to the middle class was absolutely blown away by the great recession," said Biden, who is still considering a run for the White House in 2016.
"When we came into office, we knew we had to build the foundation to the middle class, just like a bridge. We knew we literally had to rebuild the economy from the ground up."
While attempting to soften the fact that income disparity has increased during the Obama administration, the vice president noted that the difference between rich and poor has been widening for decades, according to the Times.
"When you have 24.5 percent of all the income going to 1 percent of the people, and 17 percent of income going to 50 percent of the people, it doesn't work," Biden said.
"We haven't seen this since 1921. It's not anybody's fault — not like anybody set out to do this. This is not any cabal. It's just how it's drifted."
But the vice president noted that manufacturing jobs during the Obama administration have steadily increased "more than any time, even the '90s."
While urging Congress — with both chambers to be controlled by the GOP in January — to make tax reforms to help the struggling middle class, he said, "We need to deal with income inequity.
"Why should a hedge-fund manager — and by the way, a lot of them support me — gambling with somebody else's money in New York or anywhere else, making $700-$800 million a year pay 17 percent, when … one of your schoolteachers making $56,000 pays at 24.5 percent? I've not seen any rationale," Biden said, according to the Times.
"We're going to start to see discussions about it. When ordinary people aren't making money, the pie does not expand," the vice president said.
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