Elizabeth Warren: ‘America’s Middle Class Is In Deep Trouble’

Despite the currently cheery numbers on economic growth, specifically stock market growth and declining unemployment, Senator Elizabeth Warren says the “American middle class is in deep trouble” due to structural changes that have occurred over three decades. Hard-working middle class families no longer share in overall growth, she says. “Today’s young adults may be the first generation in American history to end up, as a group, with less than their parents.” Warren’s messge is one Hillary Clinton should emulate if she wishes to engender enthusiasm in the Democratic base.

From Policymic.com: At a summit on wages sponsored by the AFL-CIO labor federation, Warren roused her audience with a sweeping indictment of trickle-down economics, the idea that relaxing taxes and regulations on corporations and the wealthy will produce gains for the economy that will find their way to ordinary workers.

Warren began by explaining the success of the post-war boom, and the globally unprecedented nature of the mid-20th-century middle class:

“Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class unlike anything seen on earth,” she said. “From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up pretty much across the board. In fact, 90% of all workers — everyone outside the top 10% — got about 70% of all the new income growth. Sure, the richest 10% gobbled up more than their share — they got 30%. But overall, as the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more.”

Warren went on to illustrate how the ascendance of President Ronald Reagan, and a radical new ideology of trickle-down economics, changed things dramatically. Beginning in the early ’80s, wages began to stagnate, while expenses for everything from education to health care to housing continued to rise. As the economy grew, the results in fact trickled upward.

“Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero,” she said. “In fact, it’s worse than that. The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago. So who got the increase in income over the last 32 years? One-hundred percent of it went to the top 10%. All of the new money earned in this economy over the past generation — all that growth in the GDP — went to the top. All of it.” Full text of Warren’s address.

Clinton has tried out a populist message, most notably at the New America Foundation in the spring of 2014, as The Washington Post reported.

Economic productivity has increased by more than 25 percent since 2000, she said, while wages for most Americans have stagnated.

 “Americans are working harder, contributing more than ever to their companies’ bottom lines and to our country’s total economic output, and yet many are still barely getting by, barely holding on,” she said, noting that “some are calling it a throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons.”

Clinton called it a “wake-up call” to learn recently that ­middle-class incomes are now higher in Canada than in the United States. Average Canadians are working fewer hours for more pay than Americans are, enjoying a stronger safety net, living longer on average, and facing less income inequality.

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