NLC general counsel Brett Seifried: Resist to Reform
On Friday we got our first look at 2017 GDP growth, coinciding neatly with President Trump’s 100 day marker. Like the President’s performance over those hundred days, the GDP numbers were underwhelming. With annualized growth of only 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017—the slowest since 2014—this is a good moment to reflect seriously on the structural flaws in our economy.
The diagnosis is not hard. The engine of American prosperity has always been a strong middle class, and this is as true today as it was before. Unfortunately today the fruit of even slow growth is not going to the middle class, it is going to the already-wealthy. We need only compare the real GDP’s 0.7% growth rate with the S&P 500’s 5.53% growth rate in the same period. Capital is doing quite well, while ordinary Americans are not. This is only the most recent example of how the real struggle facing our economy is internal—a question of distribution of gains, of inequalities between the have’s and the have not’s.
This is not just a class question. The way our society structures the distribution of wealth has dramatic consequences for the stability and momentum of our economic and political system. Populist tremors hit both political parties in 2016, with Bernie Sanders’ reshaping the vision of the Democratic Party despite not being a member, and with now-President Donald Trump staging the only successful hostile takeover of his career by seizing the Republican nomination.