By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – I have two-words for you as Congress returns from the holiday recess.

Income Inequality.

Get used to them. You’re going to hear them a lot this year, mainly from Democrats who are pushing for a hike in the minimum wage and an extension of long-term unemployment benefits.

It’s a party-wide populist push in an election year. While Republicans continue their efforts to dismantle the healthcare reform law Democrats will be talking about the proverbial 99-percent.

Not that this theme is new. We’ve heard about this issue from everyone from President Obama to Mayor-elect Marty Walsh. But the message will be refined and more deliberate.

Now of course lawmakers will disagree on ways to fix the growing disparity between rich and poor. But they cannot argue that it doesn’t exist. Just look at what happened last year on Wall Street.

The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500, was up some 30-percentr in 2013. An unusually large gain.

But it meant nothing to almost half of America.

An annual Gallup survey taken last year found stock ownership had fallen to a record low of 52-percent.

And not only because people were afraid of being burned by stocks.

Researchers say fewer Americans were invested because of the weak job market and lower wages.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz


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