The Debt-Ceiling Threat To Gut The Things Government Does For Us

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The country’s huge debt was caused by tax cuts for the rich and increases in military spending. But debt-cutting recommendations from the D.C. Elite never suggest restoring taxes on the rich and cutting military spending. Go figure. Instead they suggest cutting the things government does for We, the People. The D.C. Elite is not We, the People. Let’s stop this in its tracks.
Just a week after the Senate voted to give a big tax cut to the rich, increasing the deficit by more than $800 billion, a few senators have gotten together to push the deficit-cutting recommendations of … two guys.
According to The Washington Post, Senators Mark Warner and Saxby Chambliss are leading a group of senators gearing up to push deficit-cutting recommendations made by Senator “Milk cow with 300 million tits” Alan Simpson and Senator “On the Board of Morgan Stanley” Erskine Bowles. They will push this as the recommendations of the full deficit commission, even though the deficit commission specifically did not recommend this. This is just a plan that two guys came up with. Or, as they described themselves, “just two clowns from Wyoming and North Carolina.”
From Reuters, Warner, misrepresenting the source of the deficit plan,

“Taking the commission’s report … we’ll be introducing that as legislation, a legislative vehicle, next year, recognizing in the process that a lot of that would be subject to change,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner said.

Wrong! Not the deficit commission, just two guys.
Everything On The Table — Except Anything Wall Street Doesn’t Like
The group claims that “everything” will be on the table, even though the recommendations of the two guys closely follows a Wall Street corporate/conservative agenda.

“The way you do it is put everything on the table,” Chambliss said Wednesday, appearing with Warner before a group of reporters.

Everything, that is, except tax rates on the rich and corporations, and military spending, and a financial transaction tax, and restoring the estate tax, and… . In fact, the plan is to get rid of tax breaks for the middle class and cut tax rates on the rich and corporations, and the recommendations of the Citizens Deficit Commission or commission member Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s deficit plan. Everything — except all of that.
So what does the plan by the two guys propose? From the Washington Post story,

Warner noted that the two men agree on the general idea of broadening the tax base by eliminating many existing deductions, while at the same time lowering personal and corporate tax rates.

That’s right, the two guys propose cutting tax rates for the rich and corporations even more. Income and wealth is increasingly concentrating at the top, leaving the rest of us with less and less, starving the country’s infrastructure, starving our people’s education and health care and retirement and pushing us ever closer to third-world status, the D.C. Elite are pushing even more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and even more cuts in the things government does for We, the People.
Take a minute to absorb that.
The “Leverage” Of Destroying The Economy
In our democracy, how do they think they can push this Wall-Street-oriented plan to gut our government through? For some reason, they think that taking hostages might work. Why, oh why, would they think that threatening to do harm to the country and its economy might give them “leverage” to get what they want? Where would they ever get that idea? What hostage do they plan to take?
They plan to threaten to destroy the “full faith and credit’ of the country if we don’t give in.

Before next summer, Congress will have to take a painful vote to raise the federal debt ceiling to allow the country to borrow more money.
“If we can use that as a leverage” to get the ball rolling on a deficit-reduction plan, Chambliss said, “that’s an ideal scenario.”

The threat to block a debt-ceiling increase is leverage because if the debt ceiling is not raised the United States of America will be forced to default on its debts, destroying the “full faith and credit” of our country, the “soundness” of the dollar, and the underpinnings of the world’s economy. This would have consequences that go far beyond the harm caused by the financial crisis of 2008. This is the fire they want to light.
But who is really being taken hostage with this “leverage” play? Dean Baker, in Get ready now for the coming fight!
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We CAN Protect Social Security!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
There are rumors that President Obama is going to ask for cuts in Social Security in his State of the Union speech. We have 4 weeks to stop him. People, we can stop this.
Tell The President: Stand Up To The Hostage-Takers! No Social Security Cuts
Last week in Obama to blink first on Social Security, Robert Kuttner wrote that the President, in his coming State of the Union speech, might follow up on the recommendations of his deficit commission by announcing a plan to cut Social Security.
If this happens it would be an utter disaster for Americans and for the future of American politics.
Millions of elderly people now and in the future absolutely depend on Social Security as the only thing keeping them from eating cat food because they can afford nothing else. On top of that, Social Security is the bedrock of people’s faith in and understanding of government. Politically, the Social Security program is the very symbol of what the Democrats Party is and does. If the Democratic Party doesn’t represent protecting Social Security then it represents nothing.
If these rumors are true we owe it to those elderly people now and in the future to do what we can to head this off. We owe it to the idea of democratic government. And we owe it to the President to stop him from listening to bad advice from advisors who are so out of touch with the American people! There is an elite concensus in DC, created by expert Wall Street propagandists, that it is “responsible” to cut Social Security, and it is just wrong. It is not a correct analysis, and it is the morally wrong thing to do because so many people depend on Social Security. If anything the program needs to be expanded and increased because that is what would help the greatest number of people.
We CAN stop this if we mobilize. We must spend the next month preventing this from happening. We shouldn’t assume that is is out of our control. We should assume that we have it in our power to do something. The vast majority of Democrats don’t want this to happen. Heck, even most Republican don’t want this to happen. Cutting Social Security would harm everyone (except Wall Street), including the President.
People, we can stop this. We have to mobilize to stop it. Don’t assume that the President is going to do it — we have to show up and make him not do it! Get engaged in the fight. Do not succumb to cynicism. Go out there and ask the president not to do this. Show up!
Action: Tell The President: Stand Up To The Hostage-Takers! No Social Security Cuts
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Investing

Everyone should read Terrance Heath’s post An Investment Agenda for America | OurFuture.org,

“By failing to invest in direct job creation, our leaders are taking a ‘do nothing’ approach to shaping the new economy. Doing nothing — and yes, tax cuts amount to doing nothing, given their track record — will yield an economy in which the ‘new normal’ is a permanently lower standard of living for millions of Americans … An infrastructure bank may be an idea whose time is has come … Where an infrastructure bank leaves off, investment in preserving and creating local jobs can make a difference for millions of Americans … An investment agenda for America must include incentives for corporations to invest again in an America that has been a long-term investor in their success — perhaps even asking them to be American corporations again … President Obama recently hinted that reforming the tax code may next on his agenda. He would do well to consider that the tax code currently favors wealth over work.”

DREAM Act

Looks like the vote is tomorrow. This is really important to a lot of PEOPLE.
I received this:

Right now it looks like:
* Murkowski is leaning yes
* Lugar (IN), Bennet (UT) will vote yes
* Tester, Baucus, Nelson (NE) are likely no’s on the D side. Tester in particular has enjoyed netroots support and should feel some pain for this.
People monitoring closely think we’re within 4 votes on this.
There’s a number that will randomly assign you to someone we’re trying to persuade if you call: 866-587-6101.

Click through for local numbers:

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Don’t Pass Tax Cuts For The Rich And Then Tell Me About Deficits

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Congress passed tax cuts for the rich and cut the estate tax way down, adding $800 billion to the deficit and placing Social Security on the chopping block. No one will have predicted what’s coming next year in the name of deficit reduction: they are going after Social Security and everything else that benefits the middle class, and will hold the full faith and credit of our country hostage to get that. Choice: Gut the programs or kill the country. Action: get ready now for the coming fight.
Where We’ve Been
The Congress passed tax cuts for the rich and a huge cut in the estate tax at a time of worries about deficits and intense concentration of wealth. This act just puts the name on what has occurred since Reagan: it formalizes the collapse of We, the People democracy, replaced by plutocracy. And that was with the big Democratic majorities that we all worked so hard to elect. Next year is when it starts getting bad. Action: get ready now for the coming fight.
Here is my message to Republicans: Tax cuts for the rich were so important to you that you took the country hostage, you refused to help the unemployed, you obstructed everything to get them. You blocked unemployment checks, DADT, the DREAM Act, the START Treaty, everything. So don’t come back to me and complain about deficits, and say you need to cut the budget.
My message to the President and Democrats: Rewarding obstruction just makes things worse. You caved on, well, everything in the last two years. You pre-negotiated away things the country needs, only to have Republicans respond by increasing their demands, and then you caved on that. They filibustered something like 420 bills, not to mention judges and appointees, and you only brought the cots out once. So they just did it more. And they will do it more and more, until you stop rewarding them. Action: get ready now for the coming fight.
Worse Fights Coming
There are already signs of the start of the next fight. The big fight is when the debt ceiling has to be raised, and they can hold the country’s and world’s economy hostage to their demands. Before that, though, will be an omnibus spending bill.
Giving in to hostage takers has only solidified this kind of hostage-taking as a successful tactic. For example, last night, even while the House was capitulating to the last hostage-taking, Republicans again used the tactic to kill the omnibus spending bill. Republicans took the spending bill hostage and threatened to shut down the government if Dems didn’t accept their new demands. And Dems again gave in. As TPM puts it today,

Late last night, Harry Reid’s plan to get the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year went up in flames, burning months and months of work by Senate appropriators and their staffs. To avert a government shutdown, Reid agreed to work out a federal funding plan with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — Congress will agree to continue funding the government at its current levels through some yet-to-be-determined point next year.
… Next year, though, this arrangement will come back to haunt Dems. … Whatever date they decide will be the deadline for resolving the next spending fight, which will occur in a dramatically different, and more conservative political environment. Republicans will demand spending cuts. And if they’re successful, the stimulative impact of the just-passed tax package will be clawed back.

If they win every time, why would they stop using the tactic? Again and again rewarded for obstruction, Republicans take new hostages. Essentially they say, again and again, “Agree to our demands or we will blow everything up.” Again and again the President and Dems cave. Rinse and repeat.
Action: get ready now for the coming fight.
How Far Will They Take This?
Just how far will they take this? Look at just how far they have taken it. Look what they have already done to the country. As CAF’s Robert Borosage put it in Top End Tax Cuts and a Collapsing Infrastructure

America is literally falling apart. Collapsing bridges, exploding water mains, crumbling levees are a deadly clear and present danger. Children go to schools that are dangerous to their health. Our declining infrastructure is also costly economically, with outmoded transport, crowded highways, slow and inadequate broadband impeding our ability to compete. As President Obama has suggested, we need to make significant investments in building a 21st-century infrastructure, in education and training, in research and development as a foundation for a revived American economy.

The new batch of conservatives is very different from anything this country is used to, and that even includes the conservatives who shut down the government in the 90s, and relentlessly investigated President Clinton and literally anyone who ever knew him. Don’t forget impeachment. They do not care about governing, they care about winning. And they now see absolute obstruction — no matter the cost to the country — as a wining tactic.
People haven’t come to grips yet with what it means when one party can just block everything, and has no interest in governing at all. The corporate right intends to use the debt ceiling and the threat of literally ruining the country to get their way. They will refuse to provide funding for anything they don’t like and threaten to kill the government if they don’t get their way. At risk: Social Security, Medicare, alternative energy programs, infrastructure funding, the Department of Education, certainly NPR, anthing to do with science, reason, civility …
They see this as their moment. They intend to reform the government in their far-right image or destroy it. If you think I am being extreme to say this, watch Fox for a while, listen to their radio shows, read their magazines and blogs. They intend to destroy the government.
Limbaugh: “We won the election, we shut it down.”

Limbaugh was talking about last night’s hostage-taking on the omnibus spending bill, but reflects what I am hearing on the radio and blogs about their attitude in general. They really, really mean it, they see this as their moment to get everything they want or just destroy the government. They don’t really care which.
Former Senator Alan Simpson recently gave a preview of conservative thinking. From Politico,

“I can’t wait for the bloodbath in April,” Simpson said, relishing the prospect of political turmoil. “When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ‘em a piece of meat, real meat” in the form of spending cuts.
“And boy, the bloodbath will be extraordinary,” he said.

They want that “bloodbath.” They just can’t wait.
Actions:
First we have to bolster our own leaders, ask them to stop rewarding obstruction and fight for us and let them know you will fight for them if they do. We need an absolute commitment that Social Security will not be touched! Especially now that the just-passed payroll tax cut threatens Social Security’s financing.
Tell The President: Stand Up To The Hostage-Takers! Defend Social Security And Medicare.
Action: get ready now for the coming fight.
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m4s0n501

Germany’s Economy Shows Government “Interference” Works

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Can we compete with China’s wages? Does government interference and regulation hold us back? Are our unions keeping us from being competitive? Do we need to lower our standard of living in a race to the bottom? You might be surprised to learn that Germany pays higher wages, has strong unions, has much more government involvement and is doing better as a result. Conclusion: our wages, unions and government are not the problem, they are the solution.
In July I wrote about something Harold Meyerson wrote about Germany and China and manufacturing and recession.

Germany is NOT a low-wage country. But they weathered the recession. They value manufacturing and have national policies to bolster their manufacturers.

Today I want to write about something Harold Meyerson wrote about Germany and manufacturing and the recession. In Save the economy by keeping jobs at home, Meyerson writes,

Hourly manufacturing compensation (wages plus benefits) was $48 in Germany in 2008 – the most recent year surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – while it was $32 in the United States. Yet Germany is an export giant, while we are the colossus of imports.

Please go read Meyerson’s entire piece.
In Germany, workers also get six weeks vacation – by law, federally mandated, a right. They get health care, university, child care and pensions and as a result they have higher productivity. In Germany, the government requires worker representatives to hold seats on the boards of directors of companies, depending on the number of workers. Government-funded research and vocational training, and policies to retain skilled workers bring another competitive advantage. Germany values manufacturing and the government has an industrial policy. The government is currently helping promote green manufacturing, for example.
The result of all this government interference is that Germany’s export-oriented manufacturing economy recovered from the recession and is doing OK, and their workers are paid well and have great benefits.
Socialism?
Our government is supposed to be of, by and for the people. But today in the U.S. it is considered “socialistic” to talk about these things because it violates the dominant conservative “free market” ideology that is designed to enrich a few at the expense of the rest of us. If we try to talk about a national industrial/economic policy, it is derided with such slogans as “government interference” or “picking winners and losers.” If the discussion is allowed it very quickly will move to the dominance of fossil fuels and the other industries that are holding us back but have a lock on influence over the government. If we talk about taking the burden of health care off of the people and businesses, the giant insurance companies beat it back, calling it “socialized medicine,” to keep us from doing something about how their profits are draining the rest of the economy. And imagine the furor that would result if anyone even suggested mandating worker representatives on boards of directors so the companies take the interests of workers and communities into account!
Our adherence to conservative free-market ideology is clearly holding our country back. The ideology is designed to transfer wealth from the public to a very few, and hold the lead of the already-dominant. This is killing market innovation and it is destroying our competitiveness and standard of living. We should be looking at what works for the country instead of what keeps the few at the top at the top.
Just Who Is Interfering With Our System?
We need to develop a national economic/industrial policy to help us with our competitive position relative to the rest of the world. We need Medicare-For-All to lower the burden on our people and companies. We need to reorient our labor policies to bring better wages and benefits to our people. We need to restore a level playing field on which innovative smaller companies can complete with the giants—who are interfering with the system while complaining that the attempts by We, the People to stop them are interfering with our system.
Later we can talk about whether China’s government interferes with its businesses, and how their economic growth is doing compared to ours.
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The New Revolutionaries Take to the Internet: The Tale of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

WikiLeaks raises some of the most poignant questions of our time about the power of cyber warfare, the role of hackers, and the future of the Internet. It is not a coincidence that Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has created a whole new effort to explore and fight cyber terrorism. In fact, WikiLeaks and Assange may represent the first of the wholesale anarchists using today’s information highway to do battle. Consider that instead of taking to the streets in protest, this generation may take to the Internet to wage their battles and carry their message. We are living a time represented by the power of Facebook that links over 500 million people together. And if this is true, we may have unleashed a whole new generation of cyber warlords on the world’s information centers.
Many of our brethren are writing about democracy, liberty and the freedom of information pivoting off what they believe WikiLeaks stands for. Julian Assange has been elevated to the “Man of the People” as filmmaker Michael Moore contributes to his bail fund, and the Huffington Post sets up a whole section devoted to whistleblower Fantasy Land. You know, we all need something valiant to believe in during the difficult days of Obama. The obnoxious wealthy are dancing on the heads of US lawmakers. The banks are still doing the Texas two-step, and the Middle Class continues to suffer in silence with simmering rage. There are two deeply divisive wars. China is rising and scaring the heck out of us. The liberals of the Democratic Party continue to act like toddlers, and Sarah Palin is making hay laughing all the way to her off-shore accounts. So Julian Assange, or whoever is backing him, could not have picked a better moment of discontent. They are evoking new archetypes of good and bad in a world that is increasing grey.
Assange is the anti-hero. He has been personified as a man with no country who is a metrosexual kind of guy willing to risk it all to uncover the truth. Yet, we don’t really know much about this man, or what makes him tick. Is he really the wizard behind or the curtain, or there really someone or something else pulling the strings. Is he a hacker extraordinaire, or just a man that is a brilliant online community organizer? In fact and most importantly, what does it mean to be a hacker? Are hackers by definition anarchists, or is it just Julian that wants to topple the establishment at any cost. Or are there droves of these cyber-sleuths trolling the black lands of the Internet looking for back doors into silos of information? Remember Assange was a cryptologist of sorts which is the super duper folks that develop the ways to tunnel into software code. And it may be fair to assume that these same hackers were probably responsible for the DOS (Denial of Service) attacks on Visa, Master Card and others. And if this is true then who is really pulling the strings since these were very, targeted attacks on specific corporations that shut out the money flow for WikiLeaks? The bottom line is that we still don’t know how the WikiLeaks information is gathered and/or obtained. Does it come from this new breed of whistleblowers, such as Private Manning that had a rare blend of tech talents and access? If so; does this new breed even resemble our beloved archetypical whistleblowers circa Daniel Ellsberg, or even Erin Brockovich? And I ask again, have we grappled with the ramifications of an Internet that is locked down in response to WikiLeaks? Are we ready to usher in a new age of restrictions? This sadly will make the debate around net neutrality seem like child’s play if cyber war erupts.
Please note that this post appeared earlier in the day in the Huffington Post.

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Prevent Hostage-Taking: Add Debt Ceiling To Tax Deal!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
If you like your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, courts, roads, trains and the rest of what government does for We, the People, then you should pay attention to this. Early next year the Republicans will demand severe cuts to everything or they will allow the country to default on its debt. They mean it and they are planning for it. The coming “debt ceiling” fight can be averted by increasing the debt ceiling as part of this tax-cut deal.
A week ago, in Stop The Next Bad Deal: The Debt Ceiling Fight, I wrote about this,

If you think the tax cut fight led to a bad deal… it may also lead to an expectation by conservatives they will finally be able to cut, gut or shut the government in the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling. The President and Democrats in Congress should take steps now to keep them from thinking they can win that.
Early next year the country’s debt ceiling has to be raised – or else. Conservatives are likely to push for “or else” and hold the “full faith and credit of the United States” hostage to their demands to gut the middle class and democratic government.

Here is what Democrats can do: add the debt ceiling increase to this tax-cut deal or say no deal. Adding huge amounts to the deficit in this tax-cut bill is setting the Republicans up to take hostages again. But adding the debt ceiling increase to this deal prevents them from doing that.
Democrats in the House, at the maximum point of leverage, should add this to their demands for passing this tax-cut deal.
The Next Hostage-Taking Opportunity
It’s coming for sure. Conservatives see the debt ceiling fight as an opportunity to cut, gut or shut the government and are planning for it. They are planning to create a crisis — possibly the worst the country has faced — to force panic and then impose severe “Shock Doctrine” reforms. Here’s what The Hill is reporting:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he’s hoping to assemble a bloc of senators who will demand tax and spending reforms before agreeing to vote to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next year.

The very idea that they might not vote to increase the debt ceiling — and allow the US government to default — tells you what is coming. But if you want more proof:

“The debt ceiling, obviously, is going to have to be increased if we’re not going to default, so the question is, what do we get in exchange for that, and what kind of fiscal controls?” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House budget panel, last week on Bloomberg Television.

They are going to do this. They are going to take the biggest hostage ever. You can stop this. Democrats in the House are at the maximum leverage point. You can stop this. You can literally save the country by demanding the debt ceiling be increased in exchange for this tax-cut deal and the huge amount of debt it adds.
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Can’t Get By On $250K? Try Leaving Your Bubble!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The Washington Post ran a story how hard it is for a family making only $250K a year. Just who could a story like this be written by and for? How many ways does this story mislead its readers? If you want to write about hardship write some stories about and for the rest of us!
Over the weekend the Washington Post carried a story labeled as a “Fiscal Times” piece, Where does $250,000 a year go? Summary:

It’s the annual income that President Obama and others have repeatedly used to define what it means to be “rich” in America today. … Just how flush is a family of four with a $250,000 income?
… The bottom line: Living in high-tax areas on either coast can leave our $250,000-a-year family with little margin.

Richard Eskow hit the nail on the head in his post, A Quarter Of A Million Little Pieces: Pete Peterson & The Washington Post Have A New Fiscal James Frey, writing,

This “analysis” was written by someone named Karen Hube, and it’s based on two phony premises: First, that “President Obama and others have repeatedly used (that level of income) to define what it means to be ‘rich’ in America today,” and second, that it’s a hardship to get by on $250,000 a year.

(Please read Richard’s post, because he gets into what the Fiscal Times is, and why it carries stories like this one.)
The story claims that President Obama and others label them as “rich” because $250K would be the lower borderline if the Bush “tax cuts for the rich” expire. But this misleads readers because the family making $250,000 will NOT see any tax increase at all. If you understand how tax brackets work you know that only amounts above $250K get taxed the additional 4.6%, so someone making $250,001 will pay an additional tax of $0.046. Yes, that’s right, four point six cents. The amounts become large only with very (very) high incomes, but those incomes are so high that the additional tax is still almost nothing. A person making $1,000,000 would pay an additional tax of $2,875 a month on their $83,333 a month of income. (Sorry, it’s hard to write a number like that without shouting.)
So Who Is The Story For?
Just who is going to feel the pain of the people who “only” make $250K? The Joneses in the story actually have retirement savings and life and disability and health insurance! They have student loans to pay off because they went to expensive universities and they will have the high expenses to send their kids because their kids will, too. 98% of us understand that when we read this story. Since anyone who makes less than $250K is going to know better from their own experience than to believe what they read in this story, who is this story written for? Hint: the Washington Post is in … wait for it … Washington!
What about the rest of us? If $250K a year — the borderline for entering the top 2% — leaves the Joneses “with little margin” then shouldn’t there be 49 articles for every article like this, explaining how people who make less than $250K are doing — since that is almost all of us? Shouldn’t there be 49 articles about how 98% of us are not getting by, and have no margin at all?
Anti-Government
The story tries to make an anti-government point by claiming that taxes are squeezing the Joneses, complaining that the Joneses “only” take home $173K after all taxes (incl cell phone tax). (That is “only” $14.4K a month take-home.) But a careful reading shows that the opposite might be the case. It might really be limited government that is squeezing them:
College Costs: One of the factors in the cost analysis is college costs. They are paying off high student loans, and are getting ready to send kids to expensive collected. But college costs are so high because we have less government, because of tax cuts. This is clearly true in California, for example.
Child Care: Child care costs are high because government is “limited” in our conservative on-your-own society.
Health Care: The Joneses health insurance bill is another product of our on-you-own limited government here. Health care is covered anywhere else.
Retirement: The Joneses are saving a lot for their retirement. This drain on their income is high because in conservative America you are on your own. Corporations got rid of most pensions through the 401k scam, while the Social Security system is inadequate.
There are many other areas where limited government pouts a squeeze on people: insufficient transportation options and high energy costs due to fossil-fuel reliance among them.
They Did One For The Rest Of Us
To their credit the Post also has a story this weekend, In the U.S., Christmas remains a great divide, but the story misses the point by blaming the recession for the difficulties regular people face,

A new division is emerging in America between those who have moved on from the recession and those still caught in its grip.
This holiday season, those two worlds have been thrown into stark relief: At Tiffany’s, executives report that sales of their most expensive merchandise have grown by double digits. At Wal-Mart, executives point to shoppers flooding the stores at midnight every two weeks to buy baby formula the minute their unemployment checks hit their accounts. Neiman Marcus brought back $1.5 million fantasy gifts in its annual Christmas Wish Book. Family Dollar is making more room on its shelves for staples like groceries, the one category its customers reliably shop.

But many, many people with jobs are having a hard time buying baby formula, too, these days. It was like this for more and more people before the recession. In fact, many say that is why there is this bad economy. Where I live people go through my recycle bin looking for cans – and were doing so before the recession. People living on Social Security are having a very, very hard time while the people making $250K “with little margin” can talk casually about cutting the program in order to avoid having the cap lifted causing them to pay a bit more into the system.
The Post story attributes the divide to the “grip” of the recession and not to the problems caused by policies that have led to our intense concentration of wealth. The problem is that our economic system for thirty years has been increasingly rewarding a few at the very top, and not the rest of us. Tax cuts, bailouts and bonuses for them, government cutbacks and stagnant wages for us.
But flawed as it is, that is one down, only 48 more stories about the other 98% to go to catch up with the one about getting by on only $250K.
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