The State of the Union is Desperate

State of the Union

Year after year in his annual address to Congress, President Obama describes the state of the Union as “strong.” That adjective doesn’t describe the increasingly desperate and shrinking American middle class.

According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of Americans who identify themselves as middle class has dropped sharply in recent years.

The nationally representative survey of 1,504 adults conducted Jan. 15-19 found that the share of Americans who identify with the middle class has never been lower, dropping to 44% in the latest survey from 53% in 2008 during the first months of the Great Recession.

…Economists also report a lack of jobs growth in middle-skill, middle-income jobs. An analysis by the New York Federal Reserve Bank found that employment in middle-skill jobs increased by 46% from 1980 to 2009. Meanwhile, employment in low-skill jobs increased 110% and employment in high-skill jobs increased 100%. This phenomenon of “jobs polarization” is perhaps most assiduously studied by David Autor, an MIT economist. His research demonstrates that employment growth over the past three decades has steadily gravitated toward low-skill jobs.

Tonight, President Obama’s challenge is not to explain or sympathize with the plight of the middle class, but to tell us what he’s going to do —as President— to solve the problem of rising income inequality. Relying on Congress is not a plan!

7 Ways Obama Can Actually Get Something Done
Obama’s Last State Of The Union: A Report Card

UPDATE: What’s Obama Going to Say About the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Obama has been urging Congress to use its “fast-track authority” to sign off on the still-unfinished deal between 12 Pacific nations. If lawmakers agree to fast-track the measure, they wouldn’t be able to offer amendments and would have to take an up-or-down vote on whatever deal the administration eventually reaches. The TPP has the backing of corporate interest groups, but liberals have balked over its potential to undermine environmental, public health and labor standards, as well as ship U.S. jobs overseas. The White House has yet to find a House Democratic cosponsor for it.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on January 28, 2014 - 4:56 pm

    At least it’s bold for him to be saying he’s going to raise the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10. He’s not saying he’s going to work for that tonight, he’s going to be announcing that he’s going to actually do it.

    That’s not going to help me a whole lot, and it may even cause some resentment from current workers, but it’s a start.

    • #2 by Richard Warnick on January 28, 2014 - 5:44 pm

      Only for NEW employees? I missed that detail. Why not for all?

      • #3 by Larry Bergan on January 28, 2014 - 8:56 pm

        That’s the way I understood it on NPR this morning from Leon Panetta.

  2. #4 by brewski on January 28, 2014 - 5:04 pm

    $10.10? Why not $10.11 or $10.12 or $10.13? Shit, let’s just make it $19.99.

    • #5 by Larry Bergan on January 28, 2014 - 8:59 pm

      Because $19.99 would be an old trick to make people buying stuff to think they’re paying less.

      Not Obama’s style; definitely more Romney-esque.

      • #6 by brewski on January 28, 2014 - 9:07 pm

        OK, make it an even $20.

  3. #7 by Richard Warnick on January 28, 2014 - 6:00 pm

    National Journal has the menu of SOTU responses.

  4. #8 by Richard Warnick on January 28, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    Just after singing the praises of fracking tonight, President Obama tossed a small bone to wilderness advocates. He said “I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” The White House text says “landscapes” instead of “federal lands.”

    No new wilderness designations have passed Congress since 2009. Last year, President Obama proclaimed five new national monuments. Utah conservationists are hoping that a legacy-seeking Obama will add another national monument in Utah (maybe two). It could happen, especially after Rep. Matheson retires and we have an all-GOP congressional delegation.

    • #9 by Larry Bergan on January 28, 2014 - 9:07 pm

      He passed a really small bone to the public about not spying on them as much. Easy to miss.

      I also think I heard the TPP go whizzing by without being mentioned by name.

      Not my favorite parts of the speech.

  5. #10 by brewski on January 28, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    Obama lied (again) in his speech by repeating the lie about women making 77 cents as a man for the same job. It is just false.

    “The 77 cent statistic—as well as the rankings we’re looking at today—are median earnings of ALL full-time employed women against the earnings of full-time employed white men. As such, choices aren’t taken into account—choices like education and career path—that can impact pay grade.

    But even when you do compare the same job, the same college, the same major, the same boss, there’s still a gap—and it’s problematic, says Maatz. In many instances, depending on the job or the salary level, it can be as small as a 7-10% gap…”

    I am willing to talk about the 7-10% possible gap. But anyone who gives me this 77cent crap is just bull of bullshit.

    • #11 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 8:13 am

      Republicans applauded the idea of pay equality. But will they vote for the legislation?

      • #12 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 9:24 am

        Explain to me exactly how that would work in reality.

        • #13 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 10:01 am

          Equal Pay For Equal Work

          The Paycheck Fairness Act would create stronger incentives for employers to pay workers fairly, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and prohibit retaliation against employees who share salary information. The bill would require an employer to prove that any wage disparity is based on a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience. Currently courts can still allow businesses to justify gender wage disparity with market forces or past salaries—factors that may reflect previous and ongoing sex discrimination.

          • #14 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 10:06 am

            Prove? Prove?

            Sounds like the Trial Attorney Full Employment Act of 2014.

            No two people are identical, so every hiring and pay decision is made based on numerous factors, tangible and intangible. If all of those factors need to be litigated for every employee in the country then we are doomed.

            Your bill has no basis in reality.

          • #15 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 11:37 am

            Many Republicans applauded equal pay last night. What’s their solution to the problem?

          • #16 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 11:53 am

            So you think that for all problems, which may in fact not be a problem at all, we need more laws and more more litigation? For all perceived problems there needs to be a government solution?

          • #17 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 1:52 pm

            Apparently the Republican members of Congress who applauded for equal pay must agree it’s a problem. I’m just asking if they have a proposal on the table to solve it.

    • #19 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 1:57 pm

      Very funny “highly acclaimed career expert” Marty Nemko says you must compare compare apples to apples, except THEN he says the reason men earn more is because “Simply put, men choose higher-paying jobs.” This could be from The Onion.

      The reality-based Center for American Progress determined that in 2011, 97 percent of full-time working women worked in occupations where they earned less than their male counterparts. Apples to apples.

      • #20 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 2:13 pm

        No not apples to apples.
        Center for American Progress are a bunch of lefty hacks who have never hired a person in their life. They have no idea what they are talking about. Two people in the same occupations does not make them the same. People aren’t the same, jobs aren’t the same, jobs within the same occupation are not the same, conditions are not the same, intangibles are not the same, nothing is the same.

      • #21 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 2:32 pm

        Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley specializing in the evaluation of innovation. His columns have appeared in the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle, and his sixth book, just published, is How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School.

        • #22 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 3:14 pm

          He’s a comedian. He says “apples to apples” and then says men earn more because they are in DIFFERENT CAREERS.

          • #23 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 3:55 pm

            So if a male lawyer works 70 hours per week and a female florist works 35 hours per week, as a hypothetical, then you think they should be paid exactly the same?

            That is what Obama’s bullshit 77 cent number assumes.

            If a male lawyer works 70 hours per week and a female lawyer works 40 hours per week, they have the same “occupation” and according to your Center for Kindergarten Math they should make the same and we need a law and an army of kommissars to enforce it.

          • #24 by Richard Warnick on January 30, 2014 - 9:39 am

            What part of “equal pay for equal work” do you not understand?

          • #25 by brewski on January 30, 2014 - 10:34 am

            Thank you for completely avoiding all of my questions, points and data. I take it as your capitulation.

          • #26 by Richard Warnick on January 30, 2014 - 11:50 am

            Are you going to explain why Republicans stood and applauded the President when he said, “Women deserve equal pay for equal work”?

            If the GOP doesn’t want the Paycheck Fairness Act, what solution are they proposing?

          • #27 by brewski on January 30, 2014 - 12:13 pm

            1. There is no evidence that they don’t receive equal pay for equal work.
            2. It already is the law to discriminate so another law is redundant.
            3. Trying to legislate equal pay is a fools game. No two people are alike.
            You didn’t answer a single one of my questions so you are not serious. This is just more symptoms of your emotional breakdown and you need to spew bile and hate at everyone else. Get a life.

          • #28 by Richard Warnick on January 30, 2014 - 7:31 pm

            Or maybe we ought to see fairness as a good thing, however difficult it may be to achieve. Why not try?

            I think I know why
            Republicans stood up and applauded the President on this issue.

            90 percent of American voters favor policies that would help women get equal pay for equal work, and that would raise wages for women and families…

          • #29 by brewski on January 30, 2014 - 7:39 pm

            It already is the law.

            How are you going to quantify “fairness”?

            How are you going to quantify intangibles?

            You never answered any of my other incredibly simple questions because you can’t.

          • #30 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2014 - 8:51 am

            Yet Republicans in Congress seem to understand that they won’t stay in office very long if they ignore the issue of equal pay.

          • #31 by brewski on January 31, 2014 - 8:56 am

            It already is the law.

            Are you daft?

          • #32 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2014 - 9:42 am

            Yet President Obama’s proposal to change the law got a standing ovation from Republican members of Congress.

          • #33 by brewski on January 31, 2014 - 9:47 am

            No they didn’t give a standing ovation to Obama’s proposal for a new law on top of an existing law which would be a win for lawyers and a loss for everyone else. They gave a standing ovation to the idea of equality, which we already have. In fact, women make more than men in many circumstances. We don’t need to create the diktatorat of equality staffed by Obama’s bundlers and Chicago thugs.

            You need medical help.

          • #34 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2014 - 11:24 am

            Check it:

            Obama Calls Gender Pay Gap An ‘Embarrassment’

            Apparently many Republicans agree.

          • #35 by brewski on January 31, 2014 - 11:44 am

            What is your purpose for sending me a propaganda DNC link? What is your point? That Obama is pandering for votes on a false issue? You have succeeded.

          • #36 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2014 - 5:43 pm

            TPM is not DNC. The President said what he said, and Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

          • #37 by brewski on January 31, 2014 - 5:56 pm

            Yes it is.

            You are wrong.

      • #38 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 2:35 pm

        Explain to me why women respiratory therapists make more than their male colleagues.

        • #39 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 3:17 pm

          Link please. Otherwise I could ask you why male rocket scientists make more than women rocket scientists, without any source who knows?

          • #40 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 3:51 pm

            It’s in your link that you provided which apparently you didn’t even read.

          • #41 by brewski on January 31, 2014 - 9:47 am

            Waiting for your answer.

          • #42 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2014 - 11:21 am

            My answer is you can explain it to me. I don’t even know what a “respiratory therapist” is. 😉

          • #43 by brewski on January 31, 2014 - 11:46 am

            It was your link. If you don’t understand your own links, then that certainly explains a lot.

            No, you can explain it since it is your point and your false issue.

        • #44 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2014 - 5:41 pm

          Not a point I was making at all. My point is that women are generally paid less. Did you miss that?

    • #46 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 2:03 pm

      Comparing college-educated women to less-educated men in different jobs is not “apples to apples.”

      • #47 by brewski on January 29, 2014 - 2:10 pm

        That’s right. It is not apples to apples. That is why no two people are alike. Jobs are not alike. Some jobs with no college pay more than jobs with college. So all comparisons are all not apples to apples. So you can’t come to any conclusion about two people and their incomes. It isn’t up to you or to the lawyers or to your Statists to tell people what to do.

        • #48 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2014 - 3:24 pm

          Denial is not just a river in Egypt. For the dedicated right-winger, it’s apparently a way of life.

          A year after graduating from college, women are earning thousands of dollars less per year than their male peers (emphasis added):

          Why the gap? Men typically choose majors that result in more lucrative careers post-graduation, like engineering. Even if men and women major in the same subject, men tend to end up in higher-paying jobs. Men also work more hours, according to AAUW.

          But even when controlling for these factors — by looking at men and women with the same majors, jobs and hours — women were still paid 7% less than men.

  6. #49 by brewski on January 30, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    “the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropolises. But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than previously thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%).”,8599,2015274,00.html#ixzz2ruXcS3sR

    We need to sue. Sue sue sue!

    • #50 by Richard Warnick on January 30, 2014 - 7:28 pm

      Who knows, maybe equal pay for equal work will help everyone. All the more reason to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

      • #51 by brewski on January 30, 2014 - 7:40 pm

        It will help lawyers and no one else.

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