The doom and gloom distractions? Gone. The fog has cleared. Republicans can no longer hide from the obvious expanding wage gap, a direct result of supply side economics. Lead by Paul Ryan, the GOP has simply resurfaced the crumbling road to prosperity with a new sell job.
Declining wages are killing us, and Republicans have been standing in the way of reversing that. The nation is waking up to the fact that the bottom 90% need a raise. This is now the major topic of discussion, finally, and we should be embarrassed to have let it get this bad:
A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that Australia and Canada "have experience continuing middle-class growth," while for the U.S. it has halted. Indeed, when I used the World Top Incomes Database to compare the income growth of the "bottom" 90 percent, I got this:
So, a bunch of squiggles followed by a great divergence around 2001, when the United States falls off a ledge, Canada takes a massive step up, and Australia takes one of those proverbial marsupial hops. Chronically, the bash brothers of globalization and technology have clobbered middle-class jobs, hacking away at manufacturing employment and hollowing out routine-based work that paid okay wages. (At the same time, low-skill immigration in the late 1980s and 1990s reduced the average income of the poorest American families.) More acutely, the Great Recession delivered the mother of all housing crunches, which has been terrible news for the lower and middle classes. Five years into the recovery, construction and manufacturing employment is still in a six-million-job hole (24 million in 2000; 18 million today).
The road out is not hopeless, and the CAP paper on how the U.S. can learn from the rest of the world offers fine solutions across education, infrastructure, and working with cities to develop talent clusters. But this sort of ambitious policy landscaping is purely fanciful with today's Congress. In this government, all big ideas are rain dances.