Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, December 5th, 2013.

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Obama Administration

He made a difference.

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Obama Administration

Today corporate stooge Glenn Kessler, WaPo‘s so-called fact checker, actually (and very selectively) quoted Paul Krugman to argue that Krugman opposes raising the federal minimum wage. And, of course, Krugman has been among those calling for raising it. Krugman’s most recent NYT column, in fact, called for raising the minimum wage.

It cannot be that even Glenn Kessler is so stupid that he would have looked up something Krugman said in 1998 and ignore what he wrote last week. No, this was deliberate fudging of facts to make a “centrist” (i.e., plutocratic) argument that the working poor just need to suck it up.

What’s going on here? Are the elites getting nervous?

Fast food workers are striking today. Democrats across the country are pushing for a minimum wage increase. I’ve seen a number of news analyses saying that Elizabeth Warren represents the soul of the Democratic Party.

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech that Ezra Klein called “perhaps the single best economic speech of his presidency.” In the speech, the President called economic inequality “the defining challenge of our time.”

Greg Sargent provides a summary:

A few key takeaways from the speech: Obama described the decline in economic mobility as a direct consequence of inequality — as opposed to arguing that lack of mobility is itself the problem — and as the product of trends that are decades in the making. He cast the need to ensure that ”opportunity is real” for our children as “the defining issue of our time.”

Obama also argued that current levels of inequality and lack of opportunity as out of sync with the country’s founding values, noting that “the premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in the American story,” and that the way to preserve that promise is to ensure that “success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.”

And, crucially, Obama described the overall problem as the result of the rich pulling away from the rest. He noted that the share of the country’s wealth is increasingly going to the top while tax cuts for the wealthiest have cut into investments that benefit the rest, emphasizing that this has made it harder for poor children to escape poverty. Meanwhile middle class incomes have stagnated thanks to technological advances and declining unions. Result: The “basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed.”

Praised be, even the Pope is warning us about the dangers of unfettered capitalism.

The Right is pushing back. Recently the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece from Third Way solomnly warning Democrats they should back off from economic populism if they know what’s good for them. Elias Isquith wrote,

Their argument is not convincing but, surprising no one, establishment centrists like Mike Allen of Politico and Ron Fournier of National Journal loved the piece. Allen even went so far as to categorize it as a game changer (which evidently sent a thrill up the leg of whoever runs Third Way’s Twitter account). But for those of us who don’t already wish to see Social Security and Medicare benefits cut, Third Way’s piece was little more than a reminder of the selfishness (and increasing irrelevance) of the economically plutocratic wing of the Democratic Party.

Game changer? It’s basically the same arguments Republicans have been making since McKinley. But, you know, hope springs eternal. Some people really need to believe that the rubes will continue to buy the snake oil.

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