Archive for middle class squeeze

Paul Ryan ducks protesters at Wisconsin fundraiser


Paul Ryan ugh this guy

When Rep. Paul Ryan arrived at a fundraiser for 21st Congressional District candidate Elise M. Stefanik the other day, he was met by protesters. Maybe that's because his Kill Medicare budget was another ill-considered attempt at forcing austerity on the rest of us. Austerity has not worked. See: Fail, GOP.

Budget cuts have made a speedy economic recovery impossible. In fact, budget cuts have created a nation of poorer poor, hungrier hungry, and sicker sick. And don't get me started on what's happened to our public schools, something I know about first hand after working in them for well over a decade.

So here's what happened when Paul Ryan got to the campaign event, according to the Waterstown Daily Times:

Protesters marching on Washington Street and asking motorists to honk their horns claim the budget proposal cuts too many public benefits, including Medicare and Social Security.

Stefanik was was his director of debate prep during the 2012 elections. Maybe she should have taught Paul Ryan how to debate with himself about attending a fundraiser for his former coach. And how to face protesters who deserve to be acknowledged. Instead, the coward did decide to show up, where, per the Waterstown Daily Times video, this happened:

paul ryan ducks press at Wisconsin fundraiser

There you go, GOP, he's all yours, the guy who ducks the press and voters who disagree with him. A born leader.

Paul Ryan cowardly lion


Don't let Paul Ryan near your money


Paul Ryan ugh this guy

He's ba-a-ack. Yes, Paul Ryan and his "budget" (quotes required, because it's not a budget, it's a redundantly cruel joke) have returned to make the 99% miserable as it caters to the top 1%.

In his Los Angeles Times column, the brilliant Michael Hiltzik takes Paul Ryan and his Very Serious Plan apart. He rips into Privatize Ryan's latest attempt to screw the middle class and the poor by cutting government programs, killing Medicare and Social Security, and thumbing his nose at everyone who knew better than to vote for him and his "severely conservative" running mate.

Read our lips, Paul: Austerity doesn't work.


What's the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah:

insanity doing same thing over different results

Hiltzik also manages to get a word or two in about GW Bush's squandering of the Clinton surpluses on tax breaks for the wealthy and how he spent borrowed funds on wars without bothering to raise income taxes.

Take it away, Michael:

There should be a rule--or even a law--that politicians who propose "fixes" to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk. [...]

But the trust fund is still growing, because Social Security's income streams--the payroll tax, interest on its bonds, and revenues from income taxation of benefits--still are sufficient to cover current benefits, and then some. [...]

As I've written before, when you hear people like Paul Ryan talk as though the country can't afford to pay back the money by redeeming the bonds in the trust fund, what you're hearing is the sound of the wealthy preparing to stiff the working class. [...]

[I]f Ryan has his way, yes, the money will be stolen. It's up to you and me to make sure that doesn't happen. So, to put all these pieces together, there's no "dubious government accounting" involved here--the dubious accounting is all Ryan's. [...]

The most important factor is the one that people like Ryan want you to forget: The money in the Social Security trust fund came directly or indirectly from the payroll taxes paid by millions of American workers--100% of it. It was paid by workers in the trust that the government would pay it back. Paul Ryan is hinting, pretty strongly, that he doesn't want to pay it back. 

So why would you trust him? 

Exactly. Why would anyone trust this guy? Especially after the abysmal response to his previous Kill Medicare/Social Security proposals.

paul ryan really really bad screen grab

Please read Hiltzik's entire piece here.


Labor union gets help from pastors, students... in Mississippi! "God supports the working man."


labor union brought us

When we think of labor union support, Mississippi doesn't usually come to mind. But it may be time to think again, because a union effort is gaining momentum there.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, labor union workers are finding an ally in the South. The United Automobile Workers are getting help from unusual sources in organizing a Mississippi Nissan plant. The plant employs 5,000.

Nissan management has been pushing their employees harder and harder by speeding up the assembly line, leaving them exhausted and feeling mistreated with no way to stand up for themselves. People are noticing, supporting a "more pleasant place to work" so that workers will feel less pressured, demeaned, and become more productive.

In the words of one longtime employee, now "other people are willing to stand up for you. It takes the fear out of you."

This time, union organizers have help from an unexpected source. Pastors and students across this part of central Mississippi have joined the campaign, championing the workers' cause. From pulpits, at leafleting campaigns outside Nissan dealerships and at auto industry events in Brazil, Geneva and Detroit, these new organizers have a message: God supports the working man. [...]

The UAW is very clearly involved with the pastors' efforts, helping them form the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan...

But for the pastors as well as the workers the organizing drive is not just about union membership. For many, it has become a way to shore up a shrinking middle class. Their campaign, they say, is a modern-day civil rights struggle whose antecedents go back more than 50 years to the days when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, the day after he spoke to striking sanitation workers.

Mississippi's conservative Legislature also has waded into the fray. The House of Representatives earlier this month passed a package of bills that would restrict union organizing, one of which labor leaders say is meant to prohibit pastors and outside groups from protesting with the Nissan workers.

Gee, what a surprise: Conservatives trying to bust labor union efforts. And we know how union members tend to vote come election day, right? (Hint: Democratic.)

African Americans have a history of being more open to unionizing than white workers are, so that may be making the difference here, since most of the plant's work force is African American. It will be an uphill battle, but this is good news. One day, pairing the words "labor union" and Mississippi may not seem so extraordinary.


"Poof goes the middle class"


middle class out of vogue

Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Poof goes the middle class," Opinion, Oct. 23

Thanks to Doyle McManus for his timely review of Tyler Cowen's book, "Average Is Over." The trends crippling the middle class that Cowen writes about have been in the making since the 1970s. It took the Great Recession to finally bring this research the recognition it deserves.

Americans today instinctively know that something is wrong, thus the high percentage who tell pollsters the country is going in the wrong direction. But I think few understand that their economic world has changed forever.

What is really needed now is a rebuilding of the middle-class labor force to educate and train (or retrain) workers for well-paying, non-exportable jobs such as nursing, plumbing and high-tech manufacturing. The German labor model may be worth exploring. In Germany, government, private business and labor unions collaborate in a nationwide apprentice training system.

Unfortunately, most U.S. politicians are stuck with the bromides of the past. Someone needs to tell Americans that the world economy has changed and they need to change with it. However, they are going to need lots of help; otherwise, "poof goes the middle class."

Carl Martz



We shouldn't forget that this country's once sizable middle class emerged under uniquely favorable circumstances.

Not long after World War II, our newfound affluence — which gave rise to the middle class — overshadowed that of other developed countries, where war had wreaked industrial devastation. In addition, our wealthier citizens were taxed heavily, which funded massive government investment in public infrastructure, thereby spurring prosperity for all.

These huge advantages eventually eroded as our economic competitors regained their industrial footing. Outsourcing, automation and tax cuts decimated our middle-class jobs.

Sustaining a middle class seems a lost cause. We're left with the challenge of downsizing cherished but unrealistic expectations. As McManus suggests, that wouldn't be easy even if Washington weren't so dysfunctional.

The middle-class dream was nice while it lasted.

Betty Turner

Sherman Oaks


McManus paints a sobering picture of the future of the United States if current trends continue, pointing out that increasing inequality "leads to lower economic growth, more poverty, more fragile families and, as a result, less happiness."

More important, great inequality poses a threat to the ideals and foundations of our democratic system.

A year before he died, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." We have been here before.

Theodore Roosevelt warned us 113 years ago that "ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism."

We made the reforms necessary then for the country to prosper; we should do so again.

Jonathan Hubbell