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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

some responses to last night's address

"DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter: Well, I’m with Warren Buffett on this one. Warren Buffett, (one of the world's richest men) told me 15 years ago, when I was at The New York Times, "We are engaged in class warfare. My side is winning. We’ve been engaged in class warfare for a long time." The reason incomes at the top have gone up so much and others are stagnating is government rules that have been bought and paid for with campaign contributions, with companies providing jobs for politicians’ friends and family, and the politicians themselves when they leave office. So, we need to recognize that there is class warfare going on. It’s being waged by segment of the very wealthy—not all of them, a segment of them—who are systematically draining the pockets of people down below to increase their fortunes. Nothing Obama said, and nothing I’ve ever said, is opposed to the idea of people acquiring wealth because they made a better product or a better service, and they earned it in the marketplace. But what’s going on in our country is government rules, that I’ve written about in my trilogy on the American economy—in Free Lunch and The Fine Print and Perfectly Legal—that subtly reach into your pocket and take your money. I mean, we have 3,000 corporations now that keep the state income taxes they withhold from their workers’ paychecks, and the workers have no idea that they’re being taxed by their bosses. And there are thousands of policies like this. So, we do have class warfare going on: It’s being waged by a segment of the wealthy against the middle class and the poor."[...]

RALPH NADER: Oh, definitely. Obama simply isn’t credible on minimum wage. When he ran in 2008, he said $9.50 by 2011, never said anything or did anything for the first four years of his term. Then when he started talking about it, it wasn’t really serious. He spent a lot of days before the last election, last year, running around raising money from high—high wealthy salons and didn’t spend the time, as Senator Reid wanted him to, on pushing the minimum wage and nationalizing the issue and making it a cutting edge against the Republican. It is a left-right issue, Amy. It comes in about 80 percent in the polls. That means a lot of conservative workers in Wal-Mart are for restoring the minimum wage, which, if you adjust it for inflation, would be $11 an hour now instead of the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Notice, President Obama didn’t put a figure. He didn’t say how much he wanted. It is a left-right issue, beautifully argued by people like Nick Hanauer, the billionaire in Seattle, Ron Unz, conservative in California. Mitt Romney has come out for it, Rick Santorum, Phyllis Schlafly, Bill O’Reilly. And still, he will not put a figure on it. And so, I—the speech reminded me of Shakespeare’s words: "Words, words, words."