Carson City to Reno to DC


I keep bumping into friends from Washington and elsewhere out here in Nevada and Lake Tahoe, California — most recently Stephen Rose who thinks that the middle class in America is not as bad off as many argue.
I’ll be back in DC tonight.

— Steve Clemons


18 comments on “Carson City to Reno to DC

  1. Kathleen says:

    susan,,, thanxx for the info on DLC. that does explain a lot… weren’t some of those names on the Unity thingee? Turn off for me.
    Stodgy is the word that comes to mind.


  2. erichwwk says:

    An alternative view of the how GDP has been shared in the US during the post WWII period, see Robert Frank (Co-author of numerous economic texts with Ben Bernanke, current Fed. Reserve Chair):
    “Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class”
    I have reproduced five of the most relevant graphs from this book (not to discourage reading that book, which makes some even more crucial points about consumerism and its relationship to the “tragedy of the commons”) at:
    If Stephen Rose is indeed interested in furthering the understanding of income and wealth distribution in U.S., I hope Steve Clemons urges him to weigh in on this apparent discrepancy with Robert Frank, whose disaggregation of the data seems to tell quite a different story.


  3. Carroll says:

    Posted by susan at January 2, 2008 02:52 AM
    Thanks for the confirming info.


  4. Carroll says:

    This Rose guy isn’t worth the paper he is printed on…so much for “economist.” The only thing I agree with is “some” in the middle class haven’t “yet” felt the full impact of inflation.
    First of all defining the middle class as between $30,000 and $100,000 is too wide a spread.
    And this?….”along with increasing employer contributions to retirement savings and to health insurance premiums”.
    Show me the actual data please becaase I have seen and read too much about “dumping” of employees. I personally know a man who was a mid level manager for a Fortune 100 corp. He is a cancer survivor and volunteers with the Cancer Society here to help with fundraising.
    He was out for 6 months for cancer treatment years ago. During that time he was on short term disability thru his company policy but semi ran his office nevertheless and still had his company car and corporate credit card and the all the trappings of active employment.
    A year or so ago his company “retroactively revised” their retirement “vesting rules”. It was one of those “employees hired before such a date and after such as date”. Their “new” dates for vesting according to the year of initial employment threw him out of retirement credit for the previous 15 years he had worked for them becuase the news dates fell in the year he was out for treament and becuase they consider him to have been “rehired” when he returned to work after his treatment. So he lost all the previous 15 years company credit portion of his retirement. He is now with another company and suing on the basis that he was never “fired” or “seperated” form the copm;ay and never received notice of such, just out on sick leave and still had contact with his office and the company perks during his illness and therefore he couldn’t have been “rehired”. but I doubt he will get anywhere with his suit since it’s legal to do this becuase congress writes the rules for corps. What makes it most disgusting is he went back to work and worked for another six years “Before” they ever revised the rules and “retroactively” screwed him out of 15 years of retirement.
    And this?
    “Certainly, in the churn of the modern economy, more firms are closing or reducing their labor forces. Every week for the past several years, nearly 1 million workers either quit or lost their jobs. But a slightly higher number were also hired in a typical week”
    Nuts..again I look at my town as a sort of petri dish of the larger picture because it is a fairly well off town and mixed with basically the same kind of levels of income and classes of disparity you see nation wide.
    Ex. the guy who now washes my car was laid off from one of the major employers here. So he took some savings and bought a van and some equipment and now goes around neighborhoods and office blocks offering car washing at your home or office. He charges $10 to $20 and a bit more for extra things. I don’t know how much he makes but it is probably seasonal and I doubt it is as much as the average $17.00 an hour his plant job typically pays or that he has health insurance like he had with his full time job.
    So all these jobs the unemployed go to? Are they coomparable to what they lost or more low paying service jobs?
    Rose doesn’t mention that. Another puff piece whore.


  5. susan says:

    Joe Klein’s conscience:
    Stephen J. Rose is a Washington-based economist who recently authored “The Truth About Middle-Class Jobs” for the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council.
    For those unfamiliar with the Democratic Leadership Council, it was founded in 1985 by Democrats who were concerned that traditional liberalism would doom their party to permanent minority status. The group advocated traditionally conservative economic policies such as decreased government regulation of business and free trade that often conflicted with the views of traditional Democratic allies, especially labor unions. The organization started as a group of forty-three elected officials, and two staffers, Al From and Will Marshall.
    Marshall Wittmann, a former senior fellow at the DLC, former legislative director for the Christian Coalition, and former communications director for Republican senator John McCain, and Will Marshall, a vocal supporter of the war in Iraq, are among those associated with the DLC who have right-wing credentials.
    The DLC has received funding from the right-wing Bradley Foundation as well as from oil companies, military contractors, and various Fortune 500 companies.
    Former Chairs:
    President Bill Clinton (1990 – 1991)
    Rep. Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma
    Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana
    Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia
    Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia
    Former House Democratic Leader Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri.
    Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut (1995 – 2001)
    Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana (2001 – 2005)
    Former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa (2005 – 2007)


  6. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    If an above commenter is right and Rose is part of the DLC then it explains everything. The DLC is ruining the Democratic party. They act like the economy is going great when it is not.


  7. CTown Architect says:

    While reading Stephen Rose’s article, I had the voice of Groucho Marx in my head, saying “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
    Have a safe trip back to DC, and Happy New Year from CTown…


  8. susan says:

    “Why would they quarrel when they are the ones that want to marginalize Ron Paul?..”
    I was thinking about rank and file Republicans who respond to Paul’s message, his Republican supporters in TX, and the Paul supporting libertarians within the party.
    Surely, FOX’s decision will create bitterness and a feeling of betrayal among these people, and they might direct their anger not only at FOX, but also at their party leaders
    The elites of the party, of course, want Paul to go away.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “This might create more quarreling within the republican party”
    Why would they quarrel when they are the ones that want to marginalize Ron Paul? I am sure they all are in agreement with Fox News’ failure to include Paul. I imagine the slimey cadre of Democratic contenders are of the same mind.


  10. karenk says:

    Regarding that article on the Middle class doing fine all I can say is…spoken like someone who truly isn’t middle class. I’d bet a week’s pay Mr Rose makes more than $100,000/year. He’s doing fine(obviously had the $ to fly out to Tahoe), so we all must be too. Just look at the stats, which he convolutes imaginatively.
    He writes “Americans today are more likely to live in single-adult households than they were 30 years ago. Adjust incomes to take into account this shift, along with increasing employer contributions to retirement savings and to health insurance premiums” Firstly,although 30 years ago there were more 2 adult households, in the vast majority of them both adults didn’t work full time, only one did, which still would make it a one adult income household. And 30 years ago people made no contribution towards their own health insurance. It was completely covered by the employer. Now the worker pays several hundred dollars a month for coverage. And where in the world did he get the idea that companies are increasing their contributions towards retirement savings?? They have all but abolished pensions, you almost never see them offered anymore. Plus companies that did offer pensions are now cutting them, leaving employees who have worked for 20 or 30 years in the lurch just before they are due to retire. And when retirement savings plans like 401k and 403b first started, employers matched employee contributions by 30,50 or even 100%. Now if they match it at all it’s 2-5%. Not to insult your friend Steve but he has a bit of “why don’t they eat cake” syndrome.I half expected him to try and convince us that college is as affordable today as 30 years ago but I guess he couldn’t twist the stats that much.


  11. susan says:

    “Fox has no excuse, no good reason to ban Paul..”
    This might create more quarreling within the republican party.


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Isn’t it interesting that the so called “liberal news media” is not reporting on Fox News’ criminally anti-american ommission of Ron Paul from its upcoming debates? The foreign media seems to be paying more attention to this unfolding bit of electoral manipulation than our complicit and biased “Fourth Estate” is. Sorry for the off topic post, but every single American should be incensed at this kind of blatant disregard for a fair political process.
    Fox Stands by Decision to Ban Ron Paul
    Fox doesn’t give in to the pressure: the conservative news network isn’t willing to let Ron Paul participate in the forum (read: debate) it will organize shortly before the primary of New Hampshire.
    The AP reports that “[t]he network said it had limited space in its studio — a souped-up bus — and that it invited candidates who had received double-digit support in recent polls.”
    The problem for Fox is, however, that Paul isn’t doing much worse than Thompson. In fact, he’s polling better than Thompson in the latest NH poll. In fact, he has almost overtaken Giuliani (only 2% less). Now, if you keep in mind that it’s likely that quite some of those who’ll vote for Paul in the Republican primary aren’t considered “likely Republican caucus goers” / polled, chances are that he’ll do (somewhat) better.
    And Thompson? Thompson has only 3% support in this latest poll.
    But there’s more: Paul has raised more money in the fourth quarter than most of the other Republicans. That should play a role as well, shouldn’t it?
    Fox has no excuse, no good reason to ban Paul. Lord knows I criticize the Congressman and his supporters often enough, but he shouldn’t be silenced simply because some people (in powerful positions) don’t like his message (which seems to be the real reason why he wasn’t invited).


  13. Kathleen says:

    Lake Tahoe… beautiful… my son lives there.. his birthday is the same as yours, Steve.
    What does Rose mean “not so bad”? He’s wearing rose colored glasses. To discuss the differences in the tax code for wealthy and poor is not starting class warfare. It is calling attention to the class warafre that occured when The Gipper gutted FDR’s graduated income tax.
    The Gipper cut taxes for the top bracket from 97% to 38%, but raised taxes for the poorest from 10% to 15%. That is class warfare, in my book.
    The standard deduction hasn’t been raised since The Gipper. Minimum wage earners aren’t even allowed to keep a living income before being asked to kick in 15% over $5,500. This is grotesquely unfair.
    The people at the bottom need to be able to earn a living income before being asked to pay taxes, with an automatic 10% cost of living increase in the standard deduction, to offset inflation, just as Congress gives itself and automatic 10%col pay raise, and minimum wage earners should not be asked to pay the same rate as hedge funders. 1% is plenty for people on the very bottom to pay.
    Once upon a time, a father could support his family with food., shelter, clothes, medicine, transportion, education, entertainment. Now it takes both parents two jobs each to stay even or only mildly in debt. Some families are stretched so thin. one unforseen event and the whole house of cards comes tunbling down. This is not what I call “not so bad”.
    By raising the standard deduction for the poorest, we also do it for everyone. I’m sick of tax cuts only for the top. It’s so unchristian.


  14. susan says:

    Incomes are flat (once adjusting for inflation), health care costs are rising, and personal savings rates are falling. I would say the middle-class needs some attention.
    Robert Kuttner had this to say about Rose: “I have long admired Steve Rose’s work on inequality. I’m puzzled by his recent New Democrat tangent, acrobatically putting the best possible face on middle-class pocketbook losses, and disparaging broad social programs as pay dirt for Democrats. Rose concedes that when couples work hundreds of additional hours annually to stay even, that reflects lost living standards. But in his DLC paper claiming only 23 percent of Americans would benefit from Democratic social programs, he slyly includes only “working-age” people, which conveniently omits Social Security, Medicare, and college aid. Read Rose closely. He misstates what’s happening with employer-provided benefits, where health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs are shifted to employees, and 401(k) plans are replacing pensions. A tax-sheltered savings account that can run out of money is not a pension. The broad middle class would welcome government help on all these fronts.”


  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Even though he’s blind, deaf, and dumb, you still call him a friend.
    You’re a good man, Steve Clemons.


  16. Caitlyn says:

    I thought there was a bit too much parsing in Rose’s article for me to trust his conclusions. Being self-employed, I note that he discounted any credit card debit I might carry. And until I get details from an independent source I will assume that his stats on health insurance costs are likewise selective.
    I thought most discussion of the relative position of the middle class were raised during the Bush administration. For that I don’t care what happened during the dot-com bubble, though Rose makes that his opening comment.
    I also didn’t see any indication whether the amount of time adult family members must work to maintain a standard comparable to what they would have had 30 years go has changed, though I expect the hours required have gone up. It seems that should be factored in somehow into a discussion of how conditions of the middle class have changed.
    Overall, I felt Rose began with conclusions that “made sense” to him and then found the statistics to support his intuition. He might be right, he might be wrong – the data he used in his article didn’t convince me to accept his conclusions


  17. Harlen Exeter Thurlow says:

    Please, no class warfare talk. We in the aristocracy can plainly see that the middle class is doing just fine. They have plenty to eat, a roof over their heads and have two days off a week. They are very happy to go to work, come home, eat, watch TV, and go to sleep so that they are prepared to work the next morning. On the weekends they can shop, and laze around. Americans are a fat and happy people, and its an outrage to say they have it bad. In fact, they live like kings compared to their ancestors 200 hundred years ago in far off lands. They should be very, very, thankful.
    Happy New Year to the middle class, and I extend those greetings all the way down to the lowest of classes, who obviously are failing to work hard enough to attain the American dream. There shall always be those who can’t live up to the dream that brought their ancestors here, but still, a Happy New Year greeting to them.


  18. susan says:

    Steve, Have a safe trip. While my post is not on topic, I would be interested in reading your comments about it. From a foreign policy standpoint, how does this benefit us? Our missile defense system isn’t even integrated with NATO and we’re going to integrate it with Israel? Why isn’t this an election issue?
    Bill includes U.S.-Israel missile coordination
    Published: 12/14/2007
    Congress is set to approve a plan to integrate the U.S. and Israeli missile defense systems.
    The proposal, authored by U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), is part of the Defense Authorization Act passed late Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives and due to be considered by the Senate before Christmas break. Under the proposal, the secretary of defense must within six months present a plan to Congress a plan “to improve the coordination, interoperability, and integration of the U.S. National Ballistic Missile Defense System with Israel’s missile defense architecture,” a statement from Kirk’s office said.
    Such a plan will help defend Israel against reported plans by Iran to build missiles that can reach Israel, Kirk said. “Israel will be the first and only country to fully integrate with the American missile defense architecture,” the statement said. “It is a symbol of our shared values and a safer 21st century.


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