Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, helped set the tone for this year's World Economic Forum by releasing the comprehensive report that disclosed that the world's richest 1 percent are on track own more than half of the world's wealth by next year. It is fair to say that the report has been a hot topic at many panel sessions and in informal gatherings.
This little train wreck over the White House's proposal and then retraction of a plan to cut back on a wasteful yet beloved tax benefit is highly instructive. It's a clear example of how much hot air there is in these fiscal debates.
The typical cost to a company to replace an employee is about 20 percent of the employee's annual salary. Simple programs that support women employees -- programs such as flexible work schedules and family leave; mentoring and coaching programs -- can be much cheaper.
The New York Times reported last week that in the closed-door Republican Senate Caucus retreat, Republican Leader Senator Mitch McConnell "encouraged the Republican troops to refocus policy on the stagnant middle class." That would be like asking the wolves of the world to stop hunting and refocus on cultivating asparagus.
If we had been able to hold the unemployment rate to its pre-recession level, we would have somewhere around 12-percent fewer people getting disability payments. In other words, we are likely to do more to reduce disability rolls by sustaining high levels of employment than by setting Rand Paul loose to get rid of all the shirkers.
Obama's push to tackle income inequality provides any Democratic nominee with a central organizing theme and policy purpose. It also challenges any Republican nominee to either reject government action in that direction, alienating the strong majority of Americans who favor it--or embrace such government action, alienating the Republican base.
Income inequality is a root cause of many of the global risks we face. We need to resist the divisive bumper sticker rhetoric, overcome the status quo inertia and work together to create jobs, provide skills training and education and enable economic opportunity, or face the very real consequences in short order.
Most of our article today is going to deal with Obama and his speech, ending with the snappiest portions as this week's talking points. But before we get to that, let's take a quick look at what the Republicans have been up to, as well as some other minor political news of the week.
The national holiday celebrating Dr. King's birthday is over, but I hope we will heed and act on his 1967 declaration and work to win the first victory right here at home in the biggest economy on earth and end the shame of 14.7 million children being the poorest Americans by ending child poverty now.
I thought the State of the Union was one of Obama's best addresses recently, because he focused on what is real for this country: growing economic inequality where only a few are doing "spectacularly well" while many families are still struggling just to get by.
Oxfam International released a report this week, just as the World Economic Forum opens in Davos Switzerland, which projects that by 2016, 1 percent of the population will control more than 50 percent of the wealth.
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.
Jobs. We all need them. Are you interested in creating jobs? I am too! Not in the traditional way, but in the literal one. Below are some jobs we need to create to make the world a better place at home and in the office.
While President Obama's "middle class economics" speech last night certainly laid down a few markers for Democrats in 2016 and beyond, the real reason it now seems Democrats will be playing on familiar turf comes from Republicans.
No matter your situation in life, you can change your circumstances. You have all the capability within yourself to make good things happen. And while pursuing your goals, you can enjoy every minute of it.
What Obama is proposing puts the GOP in a bit of a pickle. They're going to have to explain why they think giving working Americans tax breaks, more money in their pockets, and a hand up is a bad idea and why they would prefer to use public money to support billionaires.