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[T]oday, growing disparity between the rich and poor is one of the critical social dilemmas we face in the 21st century. I believe that the growing wealth gap is one of the key reasons for this increasing disparity.
Despite a strong economy through the 1990s, the gap between the rich and the poor expanded. Among Americans who reach age seventy, the top ten percent own more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. How do we address this inequity? [...]
Initiatives that encourage individual wealth creation are imperative to closing the gap between the rich and the poor. I believe the government can play a role in helping many Americans who struggle to enter the economic mainstream.
In 2012, the Republican line is that discussions about economic fairness, if they're to exist at all, should be forced into "quiet rooms," where questions can be whispered. In 2002, leading Republicans -- Santorum was the third highest-ranking GOP senator at the time -- were entirely comfortable noting the "growing disparity between the rich and poor," exploring solutions to close the gap, and even envisioning a role for government action.
Santorum's piece 10 years ago wasn't seen as scandalous; it was seen as routine. It's only now that the Republican mainstream sees the need to narrow the public conversation, declaring some topics verboten. Indeed, if President Obama were to declare today that the "growing disparity between the rich and poor is one of the critical social dilemmas we face in the 21st century," nearly all of the leading GOP voices would be quick to condemn such talk as inherently "divisive," promoting "envy," and fomenting class conflict.