Robert Reich: Blame big money for our dysfunctional economy

Former secretary of labor weighs in on our latest underwhelming jobs report and the implications of "McCutcheon"


Robert Reich
April 5, 2014 4:00PM (UTC)
This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

What does the Supreme Court’s “McCutcheon” decision this week have to do with today’s jobs report, showing 192,000 new jobs for March?

Connect the dots. More than five years after Wall Street’s near meltdown the number of full-time workers is still 4 million less than it was in December 2007, yet the working-age population of the U.S. has increased by 13 million since then.

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This explains why so many people are still getting nowhere. Unemployment among those 18 to 29 is 11.4 percent, nearly double the national rate.

Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don’t have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy’s gains go to the top 1 percent.

That’s why we need to (1) cut taxes on average people (say, exempting the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes and making up the shortfall by taking the cap off income subject to it), (2) raise the minimum wage, (3) create jobs by repairing roads, bridges, ports, and much of the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, (4) add teachers and teacher’s aides to now over-crowded classrooms, and (5) create “green” jobs and a new WPA for the long-term unemployed.

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And pay for much of this by raising taxes on the top, closing tax loopholes for the rich, and ending corporate welfare.

But none of this can be done because some wealthy people and big corporations have a strangle-hold on our politics. “McCutcheon” makes that strangle-hold even tighter.

Connect the dots and you see how the big-money takeover of our democracy has lead to an economy that’s barely functioning for most Americans.

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Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Jobs Report Mccutcheon V. Fec Robertreich.org U.s. Elections U.s. Economy

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