President Obama is changing gears on the economy, highlighting income inequality as a growing problem in advance of pitched fall battles with congressional Republicans over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling.

The focus is intended to make it easier for Obama to argue that new taxes on the rich — and not cuts to social spending — should be imposed to lower the deficit.

It also dovetails with Obama’s call for Congress to raise the federal $7.25 minimum wage and to end the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.

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