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A Decade of Disaster for Workers

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A front page story in the Jan. 2 issue of the Washington Post gives a damning report on George Bush's economic policy and what happened to our country during the last decade, the decade of the aughts.

Put succinctly, the decade was a disaster for America's working families.

  • Zero job growth in the last decade when every previous for 60 years had job growth of at least 20 percent.
  • Not stagnant but declining income for working and middle class families.
  • And declining net worth or family wealth--despite substantial growth in productivity.
You have to hope that Lawrence Summers and the economic team at the White House are reading the Post.

You cannot grow the economy from the top. You must have broadly shared prosperity.

As the Post put it: "Capital was funneled to build mini-mansions in the Sun Belt, many which now sit empty, rather than toward industrial machines or other business investment that might generate economic output and jobs for years to come."

The prescription for a policy of broadly shared prosperity is clear:

  • Pass the Employee Free Choice Act to allow workers to freely form unions and bargain for a fair and greater share of the wealth they create and the productivity they generate.
  • Reform health care. Take the system from the grip of insurance companies, create a large public plan to make sure everyone is covered and to compete with the insurance companies--and do not tax the benefits of working families. Force every employer to provide health care for their workers.
  • Invest now, immediately in sustainable energy--wind farms, solar farms and small scale solar energy generation. Make sure all elements of new energy generation are produced here with wages that can sustain middle class lifestyles. No more impoverishing our own people. That means wind turbines built here, not in China, erected here by union operations. Power lines and a new electricity grid erected by members of the Utility Workers Union.
  • Create a real industrial policy and investment incentives and re-think trade policy to re-create an American manufacturing base so we get back to creating wealth instead of borrowing it.