The class bias of American politics has not only cost us our democracy. It has also cost us our jobs, our health, and our security. For years, the recovery was crippled by the politics of austerity, as a bipartisan coalition took a butcher's knife to the public sector, and as balanced budgets took precedence over basic needs.
The myth of fluid upward mobility blinds us to how stacked our system has become against the aspirations of the less well-off, thereby enabling an elite to capture every larger shares of income, wealth, privilege, and control over government while those below receive relatively smaller shares, face fewer opportunities, and command increasingly less control.
According to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers -- who is emerging as a key economic advisor to Hillary Clinton -- the big political challenge in addressing economic inequality is not to embrace "a politics of envy." No, Mr. Summers, it's not the politics of envy. It's the politics of responsibility.
The care we give to buying a vacuum cleaner is absent when we consider the test scores released to the news media by the states and local school districts. And, from those test scores the news media, politicians, and the general public reach simplistic conclusions about the effectiveness of public education.
With a president too often bold in words but timid in action facing a Congress more Republican and obstructionist than ever, little will get done to fix inequality. Even the Tea Partiers who howled in protest over the bailout of the big banks back in 2008 have been taken to the woodshed by the likes of Karl Rove, and are silent as establishment Republicans complete the return of the GOP as Guardians of the One Percent. For now, don't really expect further taxes on the wealthy that could help those at the bottom. (And did you hear much discussion of America's poor people at the State of the Union?) Funny how trickle-down economics, a concept beloved by the GOP and its plutocratic allies, as well as by corporate Democrats, become an abomination when the galoshes are on the other foot and favor the less well off. Suddenly, trickle-down becomes all wet.
Tonight after watching President Obama's State of the Union Address and speaking today with White House officials about the proposals the president is making, I can report without hesitation that the president has put forward a domestic agenda people of faith concerned about families, poverty and education can support.
Van Hollen puts the focus squarely on the corporate behavior that has driven down wages and crushed middle-class aspirations. His proposal would boost worker income, which drives the economy forward. When Republicans oppose this, the choice will again be clear to Americans: CEO millionaires or working families.