‘My Back Pages’: Paulson on Income Inequality

In the category of “The More Things Change”—While cleaning in the home office last weekend, I found a batch of old news clippings, including one from the Christian Science Monitor of August 3, 2006. In his first big speech, Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson listed growing income inequality as one of the four top economic challenges facing America. His other three were energy policy, global trade and investment, and entitlement program reform. [Note that he missed the stock market and housing mortgage stuff that he had to clean up in 2008; see “Too Big to Fail,” etc.]

“Amid this country’s strong economic expansion, many Americans simply aren’t feeling the benefits,” said Paulson. “Their increases in wages are being  eaten up by high energy prices and rising healthcare costs, among others.”

According to Monitor report Mark Trumbell, “A sharp rich-poor divide augers poorly for achieving the political unity needed to keep the nation on solid economic footing.” [Note well for Occupy-ers] 

Paulson said the solution in part lies in giving people access to “first-rate education and retraining opportunities.”  In the same article, John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research recommended “raising the minimum wage, creating a workplace climate friendlier to labor union organizing efforts, and making Medicare  available to all employers.” [Note well for Wisconsin and Ohio Labor activists].