I would be dissatisfied with a society in which middle-class and lower-middle-class earners have no chance to better themselves. In my opinion, the opportunity for self-improvement is a fundamental human right. What's more, it's not just those individuals who lose out. When social mobility denied to any group, society loses a vast talent pool filled with people who could make things better for everyone.
The task before us in 2014 is nothing less than to find a route back to generalized prosperity amid the wreckage left in place by the collapse of the Reagan growth model and the rise of the globalized economy. The debate now underway about the relationship between full employment and income inequality is vital because progressives have to find -- and find quickly -- a set of economic policies that can credibly refute the sustained attempt by the GOP to take us back to the future. From conservative circles, we now face a coordinated campaign to intensify income inequality, to erode the welfare safety net, to undermine public services and to weaken still further already weak labor unions. For moral as well as for economic reasons, progressives have to challenge this conservative renaissance by developing a political program that explicitly and proudly combines job creation and inequality reduction, one that insists on greater income equality as the route to full employment.
How many House Republicans can John Boehner drag along at the end of the day to support a budget deal that will have at least some revenues? Team Obama/Biden, to their credit, have never wavered on this, and that matters. They can't get their caucus behind them without revenues in the deal, because, as the president pointed out yesterday, no revenues would mean putting everything on the spending side of the ledger, and that would do far more harm than good, both to the economy and to the people in it. So, as has been the case all along, the debt ceiling negotiation all comes down to a numbers game, and I don't mean dollars, I mean votes.