Sacramento Bee Op-ed: Stemming Income Inequality Hinges on Investing in California’s Middle Class

There’s a new narrative emerging from right-wingers like Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on the growing problem of income inequality. Rubio and California Republicans like Assemblymember Dan Logue are blaming inequality on taxes on the wealthy and government regulations that protect workers and the environment. Problem is, this new narrative is pure fantasy.

As California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski and Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty wrote in Saturday’s Sacramento Bee, Rubio and company have entered the Twilight Zone when it comes to their phony posturing on poverty and income inequality.

Republicans like presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have crossed over and are traveling through another dimension to rewrite their talking points. Finally acknowledging that inequality and poverty are problems, they contend that the solution is to slash taxes on the wealthy and gut long-standing worker protections, social safety net programs and environmental and consumer safeguards that have kept millions of Americans out of poverty. That’s not only wrong; it’s insulting. Remember, it was lack of regulation of the banking industry that allowed the greed of subprime lenders to crater the economy in the first place, without consequences to the ultrawealthy who caused the crash.

The truth is, the income gap is a result of an economy that favors the wealthiest few at the expense of the rest of us. Giving the rich more tax breaks and carte blanche to pollute our environment and endanger the health and safety of working people won’t do a thing to address income inequality. In fact, it would make it worse.

The income gap, as President Obama has said, is the “defining issue of our time.” But instead of getting serious about solutions to income inequality, Rubio and others are trying to pull off a political bait-and-switch to avoid having to take action on the real problems that underpin the erosion of our middle class.

Pulaski and Bartholow say investing in middle class-supporting efforts like improving our infrastructure, funding schools, colleges and universities and making big corporations accountable are key ingredients in addressing the income gap. And unions must be part of the solution.

When unions were at their strongest, the middle class thrived. That’s no coincidence. More workers must have the ability to stand together to bargain with their bosses for decent wages, paid sick days and fair benefits.

The Republican detour into another dimension won’t solve our problems. Our economy must be rebuilt from the middle class out, and that means investing in good jobs and the middle class families that power our nation’s growth.

Pulaski and Bartholow:

Investing in California allows our great state to build toward a day in which all of us play a part and none of us are left behind.

So while Rubio and company are off exploring a dimension of their imagination in which making things worse would make things better, the rest of us are rolling up our sleeves. The next stop isn’t the Twilight Zone, it is reality, and it is time to start making it better for America’s families.

Read the full op-ed here.