by Max Brantley
In an interview with the New York Times, President Obama talks about the gap between rich and poor in U.S. (Cry us a river, the billionaire Kochs say. The average impoverished American is a lot better off than somebody in equatorial Africa, so what are they complaining about?)
The lede of the NYT:
In a week when he tried to focus attention on the struggles of the middle class, President Obama said in an interview that he was worried that years of widening income inequality and the lingering effects of the financial crisis had frayed the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.
The Obama interview is joined by an article about growing unhappiness among low-wage workers and how they are beginning to show discontent. Who can blame an $8-an-hour fast food worker when CEO pay is up 16 percent in the last year?
Many low-paid workers feel their employers have put an invisible ceiling on their wages, with little prospect of ever making more than $10 or $11 an hour, as corporations have focused on keeping wages competitive and maximizing profits to benefit shareholders. The richest Americans have benefited mightily from corporate America’s record profits and the stock market’s repeated highs.
These workers at least would be better off with health care, if Obama can overcome bitter-end defeat-at-any-cost opposition from the Republican Party. He says fear that his plan will succeed is driving the desperate opposition.
By the way: You think the struggling workers — defined as those making from $7.25 to $10 an hour — are just teenagers with part-time jobs and the uneducated? Think again. See the breakdown of those 21 million American workers as illustrated by the Times.