Archive for the ‘Middle-class’ Tag

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be a major thorn in Mitch McConnell’s side after it was announced that he has been promoted to the position of ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.

The promotion is big for Sen. Sanders, and it also means that he is going to have a high profile seat from which to launch his 2016 challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

In a statement, Sanders made it clear that he is going to be battling the Koch billionaires, Wall Street, and bringing attention to the growing problem of income inequality, “I want to thank Sen. Reid and the Democratic caucus for the opportunity to serve as the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee. At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we need a budget which reflects the needs of working families and not Wall Street and the top 1 percent. I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans on the committee to craft a budget that is fair to all Americans, not just the powerful special interests.”

Republican Nightmares Come True As Bernie Sanders Gets A Big Promotion In The Senate

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: “But, first, here’s my take. Much of the talk at Davos this week has been about inequality. President Obama will focus on inequality in his State of the Union. The pope is holding a meeting on it, which Obama will attend.

USA Today has a new poll out that shows that the American public is increasingly concerned about inequality and wants the government to do something about it.

People are bandying about new statistics, such as this one released by Oxfam this week. The world’s 85 richest people own as much as do the poorest three-and-a-half billion put together.

If you put this in American terms alone, the six heirs to the Walmart fortune have a net worth that is larger than poorest 48.8 million American families put together.

These are staggering numbers and it does make for some envy and resentment, but as I’ve argued before, inequality is made of three different factors: the rise of the super rich, the rise of a larger group of poor people, and the stagnation of the great middle class.

We’re actually beginning to see a healthy discussion about the first two, especially about the poor. Smart government policies could easily and effectively reduce poverty in most countries.

It’s less clear what to do about the super rich, but, frankly, if we could help the poor move up, it matters less to me, at least, that the rich move up even faster.

But the great problem, the largest one involving the most people, is the great stagnation. Middle class people have seen their incomes stagnate for decades now. And with technology taking away work and globalization outsourcing jobs, these trends have actually intensified in recent years.

A new book, “The Second Machine Age,” argues that in the first machine age, around the industrial revolution and all through the information revolution, technology was used to create power systems to work with and enhance human muscle power and human control.

Human control was a crucial process every step of the way. Think of a factory where thousands of workers, foreman, managers, all played a large role in manufacturing a product.

In the second machine age, the authors argue, we are starting to automate cognitive tasks, control, judgment, calibration. The machines are replacing human control and cognition. They can make more consistent decisions than can humans.

And the effect is massively compounded because of new information technologies like big data. The result, you don’t need many people. You can see it in the numbers.

General Motors, when it was one of the world’s biggest companies, employed around 600,000 Americans. Apple today, one of the world’s very largest companies, employs around 50,000 Americans.

There’s lots of technology progress and economic dynamism in the world today, there’s lots of good news about poverty alleviation and better health care. There just aren’t a lot of jobs for the great American or even Western middle class. And I haven’t heard any new ideas here about that central issue.”

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From the debate last night:

Q: Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, we’ve gone through a tough four years; there’s no doubt about it. But four years ago I told the American people and I told you I would cut taxes for middle-class families, and I did. I told you I’d cut taxes for small businesses, and I have. I said that I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said we’d refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after al-Qaida’s leadership like never before, and Osama bin Laden is dead.

I said that we would put in place health care reform to make sure that insurance companies can’t jerk you around, and if you don’t have health insurance, that you’d have a chance to get affordable insurance, and I have. I committed that I would rein in the excesses of Wall Street, and we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms since the 1930s. We’ve created 5 million jobs, gone from 800,000 jobs a month being lost. And we are making progress. We saved an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

Now, does that mean you’re not struggling? Absolutely not. A lot of us are. And that’s why the plan that I put forward for manufacturing and education and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars to rebuild America and putting people back to work, making sure that we are controlling our own energy, but not just the energy of today but also the energy of the future — all those things will make a difference. So the point is, the commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying, and we’re going to get it done in a second term.

But you should pay attention to this campaign, because Governor Romney’s made some commitments as well, and I suspect he’ll keep those, too. You know, when members of the Republican Congress say, we’re going to sign a no tax pledge so that we don’t ask a dime from millionaires and billionaires to reduce our deficit so we can still invest in education and helping kids go to college, he said, me too. When they said, we’re going to cut Planned Parenthood funding, he said, me too. When he said, we’re going to repeal “Obamacare,” first thing I’m going to do — despite the fact that it’s the same health care plan that he passed in Massachusetts and is working well — he said, me too. That is not the kind of leadership that you need, but you should expect that those are promises he’s going to keep.