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Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:40 PM


NYT's Thomas B. Edsall: The Obama Coalition vs. Corporate America


The wide range of hostility to big business is reflected in the views of Erick Erickson, the influential right-wing blogger at RedState.com who, “through a mix of incendiary posts, canny self-promotion (he has 24,540 Twitter followers) and endorsement of conservative primary candidates” has made himself “a conservative powerhouse.” Erickson contends that a central failing of the Republican Party is its subservience to the business elite:

The Republican Establishment gets their head patted as they sip wine with major C.E.O.s who want Washington to just do something. But these C.E.O.s have something in common. They want Washington to work for them. Washington working for Fortune 500 does not equate to Washington working for families or entrepreneurs or small businesses. We have an unlevel playing field with Washington picking winners and losers with cushy jobs for the elites when they leave the Capitol.


Margaret Jacobson and Filippo Occhino of the Cleveland Federal Reserve documented this decline in a paper published in September, “Labor’s Declining Share of Income and Rising Inequality.” The following chart shows the continuing shift in the distribution of national income from labor to the owners of capital, beginning in 2000:

An additional chart put together by the Cleveland Fed demonstrates that from 1948 to 1973 compensation rose at almost exactly the same rate as productivity; in other words, workers gained proportionately as their productivity improved. Over the following two decades, from 1974 to 1995, however, the rate of compensation growth fell behind productivity by roughly 0.25 percent a year, and then fell even further, by 0.5 percent, over the years from 1996 to 2011. For a worker making $25,000 a year in 1974, the failure of his pay to keep up with his productivity growth means that he made $5,763 less in 2011, $43,225, than he would have had his pay kept up with productivity gains, $48,988.

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