Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Economist Blames Rahm For Income Inequality

Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    A guest on MSNBC’s The Ed Show listed Mayor Rahm Emanuel as one of the politicians responsible for the widening gap between rich and poor in America.

    Liberal economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research is author of the book The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Here was Baker’s exchange with host Ed Schultz:

    SCHULTZ: Now, you`ve said that the upward redistribution of the last three decades did not just happen. I mean, it was engineered. It was legislated. And it was laid out. Explain that.

    BAKER: Well, there’s a whole set of policies, many of which you and your listeners are quite familiar with. Trade is a very visible one. You’ve had trade policies that were quite explicitly designed to put U.S. manufacturing workers in direct competition with the lowest paid workers anywhere in the world. And the predicted and actual result of that is to drive down the wages of U.S. manufacturing workers. That’s not a surprise. And that’s what we’ve seen.

    We’ve lost millions of jobs in manufacturing. We’ve had anti-union legislation, anti-union practices. You know, we just had a Chicago Teachers’ strike, which seems to have been settled on reasonably good terms. We don’t know all the details yet. But you might recall, Rahm Emanuel was prepared to go to court. He wanted to have striking teachers thrown in jail if they didn’t go back to work.

    These are the sorts of policies. I’m going to give you a long, long list. That’s what my book’s about, but there’s a whole set of policies I could point to over the last three decades --

    The point isn’t that Emanuel isn’t a real Democrat because he’s anti-union. The point is that the policies of both parties have contributed to the loss of middle-class jobs. NAFTA, which resulted in hundreds of small factories moving to Mexico, was passed during the Clinton Administration -- with Rahm Emanuel as one of the chief lobbyists to Congress.