theatlantic.com — While next month's presidential election will have a major impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans, it is unlikely to change our long-term political direction. Mitt Romney does not represent anything particularly new -- just another step down in tax rates and another reduction in government programs for the poor and the middle class. Barack Obama represents a pause in the long march, not a reversal of direction; he has largely bought into where we are today. It doesn't have to be this way. We can continue to pay for our modest social insurance programs, so people who are laid off have time to look for good jobs, poor people can get health care, and the elderly can retire with a minimum of security. It's just a matter of choice.
globalpost.com — The American middle class is more financially stressed and anxious than at any time since World War II. Unlike the “Leave it to Beaver” generation that enjoyed prosperity, growth and opportunity in the quarter-century after the war, today’s middle class suffers from a prevailing malaise, marked by declining wealth, rising debt, stagnant wages, and a mounting angst about their prospects. “Middle class Americans look to the economic future — their own, their children’s, and the nation’s — with a mix of apprehension and muted optimism,” reported the Pew Research Center in an August 2012 study. They are increasingly preoccupied by wallet issues: a lack of job security, the challenges of paying for education and retirement, and even the formerly sacrosanct idea that the next generation would be better off. “Only about one-in-ten [members of the middle class] say they are very optimistic about the country’s long-term economic future,” Pew reports.
It turns out that Mitt Romney and Tom Reed (R, NY-23) have more in common than mere party affiliation. Both Romney and Reed are more interested in outsourcing American jobs than creating the kind of good jobs once helped to build and sustain the middle-class. Instead, Romney and Reed both support policies that result in more stories like what's happening at the Sensata factory in Freeport, IL. That makes Romney wrong for America, and make Tom Reed a big zero for the middle class.
epi.org — One year ago, on Oct. 11, 2011, the Senate passed Sherrod Brown’s Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011. This legislation aimed to put an end to the exchange rate intervention practiced by China and other countries, which kills jobs in the United States by artificially lowering the cost of the intervening countries’ exports while making goods produced in the U.S. artificially expensive. The Senate passed the bill 63-35, on a rare bipartisan vote. The next day, the bill was sent to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it has been blocked ever since. This gridlock is especially unfortunate because a year earlier, in Sept. 2010, the House passed a somewhat tougher bill, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. So why hasn’t Congress acted? What happened to change the outcome in the House from one year to the next? Most obviously, control switched from the Democrats to the Republicans in the 2010 elections.
jaredbernsteinblog.com — There are a few things politicians of all stripes say that should drive you as nuts as they drive me. One I’ve been inveighing against since OTE was born is the bass akwards formulation: “just like families, the federal government must tighten its belt in hard times” (the subject of one of my first posts). This one’s particularly invidious both because it makes folksy sense and because it’s precisely because families are tightening that the public sector, specifically to federal gov’t, needs to loosen. But challenging that damaging aphorism for first place is this common point of agreement between politicians as diverse as Obama and Romney: the government doesn’t create jobs. That’s not just patent nonsense. It’s economically damaging in lots of ways. Every month the jobs report prints the numbers showing that this assertion is off by, at last count, 22 million or 16% of total payrolls.
inthesetimes.com — Mitt Romney was ridiculed by the liberal media when he complained to wealthy donors, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” To Romney, these voters are united by a dependency on government and a belief that “they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” Seething with contempt for half of America, Romney is a caricature of an out-of-touch elite. He’s also, in a twisted way, right. A movement to expand the welfare state has the potential to foster a new majoritarian Left coalition. Republicans know this—that’s why they manipulate the way welfare is perceived at every turn.
inthesetimes.com — The Left should fight for programs that provide health services, educate children, bolster the income of the less-well-off and subsidize housing. The reasons are obvious. The first is a simple moral imperative: A good society strives to meet the basic needs of all its people. The second is that government programs that protect people from the exigencies of labor markets, or of old age, or orphanhood, or disability, make people more secure. A sense of security, the reduction of fear, is a good thing in itself. But it also empowers people, and for that reason is essential to a more democratic society. Workers are far more likely to stand up to their bosses when they know they can fall back on decent unemployment benefits, just as women are more likely to stand up to abusive husbands when they know that they and their children can rely on government income supports.
alternet.org — Mitt romney has made Obama's out-of-context “you didn't build that” quote a central theme of his campaign. It's ironic, as Mitt Romney is going to profit just before the election when Bain-owned Sensata Technologies moves 170 high-tech jobs from Freeport, Illinois, to a plant in China built for the firm by the Chinese government. Sensata enjoyed record revenues last year – this isn't about making the “hard choices” necessary to save a failing enterprise. The workers in Freeport have been working 24 hours a day, in three shifts. They make $14-17 per hour, with benefits.
inequality.org — We all know that the United States is the most unequal of the rich nations of the world. Only relatively poor countries like Malaysia and Mexico have levels of inequality similar to those in the United States. All of the rich countries of western Europe and east Asia have much lower levels of inequality than we do. The real situation, however, is worse than the income data would suggest. Data on income inequality only tell half the story. The differences in the ways people live are only partly determined by income. They’re also determined by the levels of government services provided to everyone. This is most obvious when it comes to healthcare. In the rest of the developed world, everyone has health insurance. Depending how you count, about a quarter of working-age Americans don’t. Real inequalities in health coverage are even greater, since the richest Americans tend to have the best insurance.