Before I nod off for the evening, some thoughts (to expand on my tweets throughout the evening):
In a way, the political conversation about inequality feels refreshing and new, and indeed the extreme levels of inequality we’re now seeing in America are recent developments. But the fact is, this is a very old conversation. Republicans have argued for 40 years that if we cut taxes for the super rich and give taxpayer handouts to big business, their success will trickle down to the rest of us.
We tried that. It failed. In fact, it made inequality worse. That Republicans continue to argue for the same course of action is not only disingenuous but dangerous.
Everyone in America does have the same potential to succeed. Democrats, Republicans, we all believe that. That, as President Obama suggested in his speech and has echoed throughout his presidency, is part of the fundamental American creed. But no, everyone does not have the same opportunity to fulfill their potential. The little boy of a single mother earning poverty wages at McDonald’s faces enormously higher obstacles to opportunity compared with the son of Bill Gates (or the son of Cathy McMorris Rodgers for that matter, who in her Republican response implied that her personal success story could easily be copied by everyone).
It’s time Republicans understand the real barriers facing millions of hardworking poor and middle class families in America, barriers that have plainly been made worse by Republican policies. And as a nation, it’s time we tear down those barriers — by fixing the minimum wage, improving health care access for all, passing comprehensive immigration reform, and investing in American infrastructure and jobs once again. Inequality is a structural problem in America. It requires structural solutions.