So how do we re-create the American middle class?
Making our loopy tax code more equitable appears to be off the agenda, what with Senate Republicans’ refusal Monday to allow a vote on a tax hike for millionaires. And even if the “Buffett Rule” were enacted, it would do nothing to alter the rocketing inequality in Americans’ pre-tax income. With the Southern wage for manufacturing — roughly $14 an hour — becoming the national norm, and with hiring more prevalent for low-wage restaurant and retail jobs than for positions in higher-paid industries, the incomes of most Americans will continue to stagnate, if not decline.
Recently, though, two proposals have emerged that could boost Americans’ incomes. One — part of an omnibus stimulus measure from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) — would raise the minimum wage and index it to the cost of living. The second, laid out in the new book “Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right,” by Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit, would extend the employment protections of the Civil Rights Act — which forbids firing workers for reasons of race, gender, age and disability — to workers seeking to join a union. Read more.