It is in sharp contrast to the debt issue I explored in my 2006 film "In Debt We Trust: America Before The Bubble Burst." It focused on mounting consumer debt and how it turned so many families into serfs, living to pay off high-interest credit cards, crushing student loans and fraudulent sub-prime mortgages.
Not only is this personal debt crisis that so many American feel deeply not on the Republican agenda, but the kamikazes have fought successfully to neuter proposed reforms to protect consumers. They also have managed to force the administration to abandon Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren, who led the fight for government agency to stop the abuses by banks and credit-card companies.
These Republicans have no shame in weakening efforts that would make the octopus-like grasping of loan companies more transparent and less predatory. Protecting people is not one of their priorities. Defending the privileged is.
While their narrative of negativity became dominant, progressives either became a cheering squad for corporate Democrats or over-focused on the machinations of the flamboyant characters on the Right, like Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.
Progressives mostly reacted defensively, instead of acting offensively.
They did not fight the Right's narrative with another one attacking the economic powers in a crusade for justice. They watched as community organizations like ACORN were driven into the ground and only woke up when the Governor of Wisconsin went after the collective bargaining rights of unions.
Instead of organizing and uniting around campaigns based on programs for substantive change, the progressives played defense, trying to hold on to existing rights. They stopped fighting for new rights for all Americans.
As a result, the Left has left itself out of this polarized political war even as the economy worsens while the media focuses on the clash of the gladiators on Capitol Hill.
But Reich reminds us these are not Clinton times:
"When the Great Recession wiped out $7.8 trillion of home values, it crushed the nest eggs and eliminated the collateral of America's middle class. As a result, consumer spending has been decimated. Households have been forced to reduce their debt to 115% of disposable personal income from 130% in 2007, and there's more to come. Household debt averaged 75% of personal income between 1975 and 2000.
"We're in a vicious cycle in which job and wage losses further reduce Americans' willingness to spend, which further slows the economy. Job growth has effectively stopped. The fraction of the population now working (58.2%) is near a 25-year low -- lower than it was when the recession officially ended in June 2009."
Who is talking about this disaster?
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