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Redistribution And Obama

Over almost three decades, really ever since Ronald Reagan became president, there has been a redistributionist curve to the American economy. In this period, the curve has enriched the already rich. The more rich they were the greater their further enrichment. This is not the consequence of a neutral hidden hand in history. It is a result of law and policy and, moreover, of the ethically debauched standards that brought us to the present calamitous circumstances of the financial system.

Different policies would have improved the situation of the middle class and solidified the status of the upper middle class, whose fragility has now become more apparent than ever. These two strata are feeling the strain -and, yes, one can say "pain"- of the decline in employment, pay, bonuses, health care, scholarship money that underlay democratic capitalism even as it was being sabotaged by the ideological free marketeers.

I do not here emphasize the poor because they had long ago become the permanent orphans of the system which, whether under Democratic or Republican stewardship, had little inclination to change the structural supports for what was morally insupportable.

So Obama re-entered into our political vocabulary the idea of economic redistribution. It is about time someone did. The fact is that Obama's victory will be based on votes from voters who want reasonable redistribution downwards.

When Obama brings his program to a Democratic Congress there will be no surprises. Not from the Congress. And not from the American people. Obama had made it clear that these were his intentions. And McCain and the Republicans had already warned them of the peril. Redistribution was an issue in the election, and the electorate will have voted for it. No surprises.