Podcast: Does the Constitution Speak to Income Inequality?

Currently, the topic of income inequality and the Constitution is a hot one in public policy circles after President Obama used an executive order to raise the minimum raise for federal contract workers, instead of allowing Congress to act.

theconstitutionPresident Obama warned of the move, and more like them, in December when he said that “income inequality” was “defining challenge or our time.”

The debate over the federal government and income inequality goes back before the New Deal, and today it is also central to the debate over the Affordable Care Act. Also, there is considerable discussion about President Obama’s use of executive orders in ways that could redistribute income.

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And there are considerable constitutional arguments about income inequality, and about how the Founding Fathers would view the federal government’s role in matters of private property rights and economic equal opportunity.

To discuss these broad constitutional issues, today and in the time of the Founders, we call on two legal experts with deep history backgrounds.

William Forbath is the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair and is Associate Dean of Research at the University of Texas- Austin School of Law. His current work concerns the idea of opportunity in U.S. constitutionalism.

Stephen B. Presser is Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History at Northwestern University Law. He is a leading American legal historian and a frequently invited witness before Congress on issues of constitutional law.

To listen to this wide-ranging conversation, which includes an analysis of the impact James Madison, Andrew Jackson, the Progressives and the Lochner court had on the current debate, listen in the player below or download this episode (right click and save)

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