The gulf between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, meanwhile, is as gaping as ever. “The CEO of an S&P 500 Index company made, on average, 354 times the average wage of a rank-and-file U.S. worker in 2012,” the AFL-CIO reports. The dysfunction in Washington is, if anything, worse than ever. Sen. Pat Toomey told newspaper editors in Norristown, Pa., this week that expanded gun background checks failed because some of his fellow Republicans “did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”
Take that attitude and apply it to dozens of votes on economic proposals over the past few years, and you can see why, A, they failed; and, B, Obama is at wit’s end. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, says infrastructure is another example of the problem Toomey identified. People need jobs, work needs to be done, the business community is on board, and interest rates are low. So why hasn’t Congress taken up any of Obama’s proposals, or come up with its own, to jump-start construction and renovation of roads, bridges, rail, airports, schools, and the like?
“Business in private will tell you that we need to do infrastructure because we’re falling behind,” Trumka told me. “They know that in order for the country to be competitive, we have to upgrade these systems. But they don’t talk about it. They’re afraid. They get pushed back by Republican leadership – ‘If you support something that Obama wants, than you’ll lose your support here’ ” on Capitol Hill.