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Jared Bernstein, a former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, argued that income inequality in the United States not only affects individuals experiencing it but the nation as a whole.

“Inequality reduces opportunities, dampens growth, distributes it unevenly, and the more far reaching impacts of inequality … on the democratic process and the distribution of social capital,” Bernstein told students at Huntsman Hall on Tuesday evening.

He also outlined which policies he believes would ameliorate the situation of income inequality, citing universal pre-kindergarten, college access and completion, the earned income tax credit and a higher minimum wage.

During his time at the White House, Bernstein was a also member of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Wharton senior Amiyr Jackson, the  President of Penn Democrats, one of the sponsors of the talk, appreciated Bernstein’s use of data, which showed that income inequality affects longterm economic growth. “Its not just a moral obligation but an economic obligation in this country to tackle income inequality,” he said.

The talk, which was part of the Penn Democrats’ “Why We Vote Blue” series, was also supported by Wharton Politics and Business Association, the Undergraduate Economics Society and SPEC Connaissance.

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