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Brace yourself for a new wave of far right trickledown propaganda as President Obama is expected to call for a hike in the minimum wage in tonight’s SOTU speech. If you’re looking for some actual facts to counter the onslaught, John Schmitt has an excellent post at the Center for Economic Policy research blog, entitled “SOTU Minimum Wage FAQ.”

For instance:

Who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage?

According to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), almost 17 million workers who earn between the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 and the proposed new level of $10.10 (to be fully phased in by 2016) would see an increase in their wages. EPI estimates that another 11 million workers who earn just above the new federal minimum wage would likely get a pay increase as well. Read More

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The folks at Pew Research released new poll results today confirming that Americans are increasingly sick and tired of the nation’s growing economic inequality and want government to do something about it. Even sizable percentages of Republicans favor strong action.

“There is broad public agreement that economic inequality has grown over the past decade. But as President Obama prepares for Tuesday’s State of the Union, where he is expected to unveil proposals for dealing with inequality and poverty, there are wide partisan differences over how much the government should – and can – do to address these issues.

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted Jan. 15-19 among 1,504 adults, finds that 65% believe the gap between the rich and everyone else has increased in the last 10 years. This view is shared by majorities across nearly all groups in the public, including 68% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans.”

And while there is a significant partisan divide, overall majorities were large for some common sense solutions and assessments of the source of the problem: Read More

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Frozen foodBaby, it’s cold outside! Another blast of polar air has settled into the eastern half of the country and appears likely to stick around for a while.  WRAL.com forecasts little relief over the next week and sports geek tongues are starting to wag about the possibility of the first truly frigid Super Bowl (which is scheduled in New Jersey for Groundhog’s Day). The website nflweather.com (yes, there really is such a site!) says it’s too early to offer a prediction, but other sites (e.g. Accuweather) are already publicly predicting tolerable temps.

And speaking of weather, rest assured that climate change deniers are — as they always do — seizing on the current cold snap as “evidence” that the planet really isn’t warming. If only that were the case. The scientists at NOAA tell us that 2013 tied as the fourth hottest year on record.

Yet another interesting take on the weather comes from conservative Illinois congressional candidate Susanne Atanus. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Atanus went all Pat Robertson the other day during an interview with the paper — telling the editors that “she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as punishment for gay rights and legalized abortions.”

Meanwhile, speaking of troubled souls plagued by certifiably insane ideas, check out “The Year in Homophobia” over on the website Right Wing Watch. Read More

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The huge and growing gaps in wealth and income inequality are much in the news these days — from Washington to the Vatican and here’s why: the plain facts are simply stunning and overwhelming. To see this in black and white (or, to be more accurate, red, orange and blue) click here and here to check out two new animated graphs from Chad Stone of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (a third one will be released shortly).

As Stone notes by way on introduction with the understated language of a crack economist:

“The economic fortunes of the wealthy and everyone else have diverged sharply in recent decades.  It wasn’t always this way; from the end of World War II into the 1970s, income growth was shared equally among all segments of the population.  But, as we’ll illustrate in three animated graphs, most of the income growth in recent decades has occurred at the very top.”

As the graphs show here and here, that’s putting it gently.

 

NC Budget and Tax Center

For decades, policymakers and economists alike have all assumed that a growing economy automatically translates into increased prosperity and improved quality of life for a majority of citizens. This is the theory that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” As the American economy continues to transition in the 21st century, however, it is increasingly clear that economic growth by itself neither lifts all boats nor delivers the benefits to America’s working families that have long been promised.

In a point echoed by a recent BTC report, economic growth just isn’t enough—positive change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) no longer translates into increased prosperity for all.

In fact, the opposite is true. As shown in the following charts developed by Demos, decades of economic growth have yielded little in the way of increased incomes for working families;

Personal_Income_Lags_Behind_Growth_1

…. or meaningful reductions in poverty.

Read More