Posted April 16, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC -- Mr. President, one of the unfortunate characteristics of the American economy for the last few decades has been the rising gap between upper and middle-income Americans. Increasingly, those in the upper echelons of income and wealth have seen their fortunes rise, while the vast majority of Americans have coped with stagnant income and increasing insecurity. In recent decades, most families have had to cope with a reduced ability to afford the things middle-class Americans once took for granted -- a comfortable home, college educations for the kids, and a secure retirement. At the same time, incomes have risen remarkably for those at the very top of the income scale. Today, by some measures, income inequality is greater in our country than at any time since just before the Great Depression.
This should worry us all. It should worry us because a way of life has become endangered. That way of life -- one in which, if you work hard, play by the rules and plan for the future, you and your family will prosper -- came to be known as the "American way." But increasingly, the American way has been replaced by one in which the very wealthy do well while everyone else struggles. Instead of all boats rising together, it is the yachts that have risen -- good economy or bad -- while all the other boats have been stuck in place and taking on water.
Today we have a chance to begin the work of closing that income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the middle class. We can, by adopting this motion to proceed, begin the debate on how best to address the worrisome and growing gap. But that debate cannot begin unless our colleagues on the Republican side agree to allow it to begin....
Click here to read the rest of Sen. Levin's Senate Floor Statement.