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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is de-emphasizing phrases that draw attention to economic disparity and is focusing instead on a message about fostering upward mobility. As a result, income inequality is out, the phrase "ladders of opportunity" is in.
    
Obama's switch is intended to avoid being perceived as divisive. Also, he has been criticized on grounds that his rhetoric is exploiting the gap between haves and have-nots.
    
On Dec. 4, Obama delivered a sweeping economic address in which he declared that increasing inequality is most pronounced in the U.S., and that it challenges the very essence of who Americans are as a people. He uttered the word "inequality" 26 times in his speech that day.
    
A month later the word has all but disappeared at the White House.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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