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The Betrayal of the American Dream -- A Once Vibrant Middle Class Is Now on the Brink

Donald Barlett and James Steele explain in their new book how American middle class has been impoverished and its prospects thwarted in favor of a new ruling elite.

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AMY GOODMAN: We only have a few minutes. You have a whole chapter, the last chapter, "Restoring the American Dream," which is devoted to solutions. Lay them out.

JAMES STEELE: Well, one of what—the most obvious thing to us and the thing we put first is the tax code. The tax code needs to be amended. The folks who can afford to pay more should. Almost every poll out there shows widespread American support for this. I mean, this is what’s so bizarre about Boehner’s comment about raising taxes on people who make money. It’s just totally ridiculous. People can afford—in fact, many rich people say that and have come forth to say that, so—and putting in multiple brackets. And brackets mean the more you pay—the more you earn, the more you pay. That’s the way things used to be, and the country thrived under that system, and it didn’t penalize anybody and didn’t create class warfare, had actually created a very broad-based society.

Trade policy is another that needs to be amended. Don’t just have our door open, let everybody send their stuff in, unless they’re going to do the same with us, which has never happened. We’ve never had the guts to enforce the proper trade policy.

A significant thing we also talk about is, we really need to invest in the country, because corporations aren’t. So many of them are going abroad. A true broad-based investment infrastructure and many other things. The largest peacetime infrastructure investment program in this country was under Dwight Eisenhower in the '50s: the interstate highway program. And that was with broad, bipartisan support. I mean, that's what we need to get back to in this country. Obama’s rather anemic stimulus program was roundly condemned by conservatives, when in fact it’s things like that that are part of the solution to the problem.

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