Two news stories caught my eye.
1. An op-ed by Robert Reich in today's NYT titled "Totally Spent". He writes:
The only lasting remedy, other than for Americans to accept a lower standard of living and for businesses to adjust to a smaller economy, is to give middle- and lower-income Americans more buying power — and not just temporarily.
The only way to keep the economy going over the long run is to increase the wages of the bottom two-thirds of Americans. The answer is not to protect jobs through trade protection. That would only drive up the prices of everything purchased from abroad. Most routine jobs are being automated anyway.
"Trade protection" is a straw man argument. Nobody is asking for trade protection. He uses this to sidestep the issues of fairness in how laws and rules are enacted and how they are enforced, be it illegal immigration or outsourcing/offshoring.
However, at this point, even his acknowledgment that an economy comprised of impoverished workers cannot thrive is a welcome change of tone.
2. In his column titled "Obama (Finally) Putting Attack On NAFTA Front and Center?", David Sirota quotes Obama's attack on NAFTA and free trade policies:
"It's a game where trade deals, like NAFTA, ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wages at the local fast-food joint or at Wal-Mart. It's what happens when the American worker doesn't have a voice at the negotiating table, when leaders change their positions on trade with the politics of the moment, and that is why we need a president who will listen not just to Wall Street, but to Main Street, a president who will stand with workers not just when it's easy, but when it's hard, and that's the kind of president I intend to be when I'm president of the United States of America."
I trust Sirota based on his columns in earnest support of American workers. So, if Sirota is sensing a change of tone in Obama's words, then I am prepared to allow myself to feel hopeful.
Finally some signs of change? Perhaps.