Washington, D.C. -Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined the nation’s labor leaders at the AFL-CIO’s first summit on wages at Washington, D.C.’s Gallaudet University, on Wednesday.
“If we are ever going to unrig the system, then we are going to need to make some important political changes.” ~Elizabeth Warren
A maiden voyage, labor’s Raise the Wage Summit, saw political leaders join American workers from labor leaders to minimum wage employees speaking on the importance of providing a living wage to America’s workers, both union and non-union.
Warren who credited her successful Senate campaign to Massachusetts labor union support, fired up the overflow crowd of more than 300, blasting an American economic policy, built over the last 30 years, that shored up the spoils of the country’s top 10 percent while eradicating income growth for 90 percent of the American people.
“The overall picture doesn’t tell much about what’s happening at the ground level to tens of millions of Americans,” she said.
Highlighting a recent article in Politico, Warren acknowledged current positive indicators of a recovering economy.
Improvements seen in GDP growth, low inflation, job growth and stock market recovery, had Warren celebrating the Obama administration successes, while cautioning against a rose-colored glasses interpretation.
“Despite these cheery numbers, America’s middle class is in deep trouble.”
Pointing to the plight of the Middle Class and the majority of people, Warren made it clear that not everyone was a direct benefactor of the economic uptick.
“Think about it this way, the stock market is improving and that’s great if you have a pension or you have money in a mutual fund, but if you and your husband or wife are both working full-time, with kids in school and you’re among the half or so of all Americans who don’t have any money in stocks, how can an improving stock market help you?”
Warren bespoke a broken system where a 40-hour minimum wage worker was not able to feed a family, pay bills or just get by.
“Corporate profits and GDP are up, but if you work at Walmart and you’re paid so little that you still need food stamps to put groceries on the table, what does more money in stockholders pockets and an uptick in the GDP do for you?”
30 Years Structural Change for the 10 Percent
Blasting an errant economic policy based on Wall Street partisanship and corporate profiteering, Warren drove the message to return the country’s income and prosperity to its workers.
“A lot of broad national statistics say our economy is getting better and its true. Our overall economy is recovering from the terrible crash of 2008 but there have been deep structural changes in the economy – changes that have been going on for more than 30 years. Changes that have cut out hard-working, middle-class families from sharing in the overall growth.”
Painting a picture of an America moved from working for the working class through the 1970’s, to an America fine-tuned for the rich and powerful beginning under the Reagan administration in 1980, Warren walked the energized crowd through the untempered change.
“Up until 1980, from 1935 to 1980, 90% of the people, all people, middle class, working folks, the poor, they got about 70% of all new income that was created in this economy. And the top 10% took the rest.”
“Well, since 1980, guess how much of the growth and income over the last 32 years? How much of the growth and income did the 90% get? Zero. None. In fact it is worse than that.”
“The average family not in the top 10% makes less money today than they were making a generation ago. So who got all of the increase in income over the last 32 years?”
“100 percent of it went to the top 10 percent. All of the new money earned in this economy over the past generation, all of that growth in GDP went to the top. All of it. That is a huge structural change in this country, “ she said.
Warren’s solution was to rebuild the middle class through choices and policies supportive of the working class and majority.
“These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead. Opportunity is slipping away. Many feel like the game is rigged against them and they are right, the game is rigged against them.”
Urging the audience to move their legislators away from trickle down and deregulatory policy, Warren noted the need to begin to change political policy and concentrate on jobs and work.
“We know that Democracy does not work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power, and that means its time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians that they don’t work for the big banks, they work for us. That’s what it’s time for.”
American jobs and American product
Receiving a boisterous round of applause from the audience, Warren denounced outsourcing in favor of American workers.
“And let’s get ready for what’s coming. We believe in trade policies that will strengthen our tax codes, that will strengthen our economy, that will raise our standard of living, that will create American jobs, because we will never give up on these three words – MADE IN AMERICA. We believe in that.”