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America's Robber Barons Are at War With the Rest of the Country

They may lose a battle here and there but their assault on the middle class and takeover of our politics is part of a much longer war.

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They've taken on our tax system, successfully raising taxes on the middle class and the poor (Social Security payroll taxes, sales taxes, and user fees) while reducing their own top marginal tax rates. They've taken on public spending -- cutting government workers and programs the poor and middle class depend on (teachers and school budgets, social workers and family support services, job training and unemployment insurance, to name only a few.)

And they've taken on the unions that once negotiated good wages on behalf of the middle class and of those who aspired to join it.

The result has been a degree of inequality this nation hasn't witnessed since the days of the robber barons of the late nineteenth century -- an inequality that's harming our economy as much as it's undermining our democracy.

As Washington fiddles over the fiscal cliff, a larger battle over inequality is being waged all over America.

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage," now available in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Obama's transition advisory board. His latest book is "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

 
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