In his October 3 blog Democrats should talk about inequality, former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich makes an argument that runs counter to what many economists, MSM media, and certainly Republicans would have us think about the economy. Namely, that growth is steady and that unemployment is low. What Reich correctly reminds us is that poverty is up, health care costs are up, tuition is up, and median household income, adjusted for inflation, is actually down since 1999.
There is plenty of evidence of growing inequality, such as the U.S. Gini Coefficient, recent Price and Wage data that shows lower real average hourly earnings, and minimum wage data that shows that, adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage has fallen over 30% since 1980.
In the long run, saving the middle class is good for workers and good for business. After all, from a merchant’s point of view, poor people are not exactly the best customers.
Robert Reich has some concrete policy suggestions and gets it right when he says
“…don’t be surprised if you hear lots of Democratic candidates and maybe even a few Republicans talk about restoring fairness to the economy. That means at a minimum: rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, raising the minimum wage, lifting the ceiling on earnings subject to Social Security payroll taxes, and cutting taxes on the middle class. The new political motto: It’s fairness, stupid.”