Bridging the Two Americas

In the past four years, the income of the median family has fallen while the gap between executive pay and that of ordinary workers has continued to widen. Some of this trend is the result of deliberate Bush administration policies: tax cuts tilted toward the top, the defunding of social subsidies, the deregulation of corporate America, and the disempowerment of workers. But larger trends are also at work.

The fact is that America lacks a comprehensive policy either to ensure minimally adequate incomes for people at the low end of the labor market or to help them ascend career ladders. That's why so many millions of Americans are working full time and are still poor.

The absence of a systematic strategy to make work pay is more serious today because of the convergence of several long-term trends that leave working families more vulnerable than in the past. One such trend is the assumption that mothers of young children will be in the labor force, coupled with the gross inadequacy of socially provided or subsidized child care. Another trend is the weakening of

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