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Wage Stag Nation

Another ironic situation is shaping up.

In the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky points out that Republicans have started talking about stagnant wages as a way to attack Obama.

For example, John Boehner, upon being reelected (barely) as Speaker of the House, spoke on the House floor:

In recent months our economy has showed signs of improvement. After difficult years it may be a temptation to accept what I would call the new normal. But … far too many Americans remain out of work and too many are working harder only to lose ground to stagnant wages and rising costs. We can do better. We can build an economy that furthers better-paying jobs, more growth and more opportunity for the middle class. This is our vital task.

And it is true that the fact that wages have not increased significantly is the worst part of not just the current economic recovery, but of the last 30 years or more.

Since 1979, worker productivity in the US has increased by 80%. And (as a result) the income of the top 1% has increased a stunning 240%. Yet the wages of an average American has gone up less than 8%, adjusted for inflation. That’s bad news, because a thriving middle class is a large part of what drives our economy, and in the US the middle class is going nowhere, despite working harder and better.

Hypocritically, most of this was by design – it was the heart of “Trickle Down Economics”. The idea that if we gave huge tax breaks to the wealthy, jobs and money would trickle down to the middle class. So we handed out tax breaks to the wealthy like they were candy. How did that work out?

It is going to be interesting to see how the GOP pins this problem on Obama.

Especially after the announcement that Obama is going to use the State of the Union speech to propose closing huge tax loopholes for the wealthiest while offering new tax breaks for the middle class (and simultaneously reducing the deficit).

Will Republicans flip-flop and turn against the middle class again? Will they have to in order to remain the Party of No, opposing everything Obama proposes (even things they came up with in the first place, like Romneycare?) Can a leopard change its spots?


One Comment

  1. Max wrote:

    Shhhhh! Get a quiet room!

    Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink