Saving the American Middle Class

December 11, 2013 | Huffington Post |

President Obama calling economic inequality the premier challenge of our time is notable for two reasons: first, he is acknowledging the weakening of the America middle class as one of the greatest threats to America's future. But perhaps more telling, he is making this declaration at THEARC - a community center in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

The irony? Washington DC has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country. In fact, some of DC's most affluent neighborhoods are home to our most influential policymakers. And yet, the opportunity gap, even in our nation's capital, is so stark that some of our decision makers rather cut the resources for neighborhoods in their own backyard than invest and strengthen them. [...]

For the first time, in a long time, the American middle class is on its own.

Facing a weakened social safety net, more Americans have turned to other means -- including credit cards and other forms of debt -- to make ends meet. Particularly African Americans, who according to a new study authored by Demos and the NAACP, not only rely on credit cards to cover basic necessities; but also suffer worse economic consequences for shouldering the debt.

And though these economic realities may disproportionately affect people of color, they are not exclusive to any one community. Most middle class Americans -- whether white, black, Latino or Asian -- are struggling to stay afloat.

President Obama's recommendations for universal pre-k, fully implementing the Affordable Care Act and raising the minimum wage are all necessary steps to closing the opportunity deficit, growing the middle class and creating pathways to building economic security for more Americans.

But do we have the will?

Some say no. Some argue that addressing economic inequality is either politically infeasible or that now is not the right time.

But, everyday Americans say differently.