This week was dominated by the ongoing Congressional hostage drama. Democrats trumpeted a poll showing more Americans blame the GOP (53 percent) than Obama (31 percent) -- with the GOP garnering a record low approval rating. But while the White House may be winning the battle, it's the country that continues to lose the war. With 7.3 percent unemployment, and 20 million people unemployed or underemployed, the fact that all notions of "compromise" are taken only to mean some mix of further self-destructive cuts -- instead of investing in infrastructure building and a real jobs program -- shows just how far the economic debate has been shut down. At some point, this manufactured crisis will end, but it will take a lot more than getting back to the status quo to release the true hostages: the poor, the middle class and the American Dream.
This week, in the midst of revelations that the NSA has been secretly collecting vast amounts of information on us, and just before yet another middling jobs report was released, President Obama visited North Carolina as part of a "Middle Class Jobs and Opportunities Tour." Though the middle class continues to get pummeled -- with family wealth declining almost 30 percent in the last decade -- the White House brings up the issue only sporadically. It pops up, gets a few lines in a speech, then disappears again. The administration's meandering approach is like when an old person wanders into the kitchen and can't remember why: "Now what did I come in here for? Oh yeah, that's right -- some yogurt... and the middle class!" Maybe the president would be motivated to bring some sustained urgency to this crisis if the conversations the NSA is busy collecting were between America's 22 million unemployed and underemployed.