Kevin Drum's piece on the decline of labor unions and the rise of corporate power is excellent and definitely worth a read. It also contains a wealth of great charts, including this one, which compares the current income tax rate on millionaires to its rate in the past. Short story? Millionaires are doing very well for themselves:
Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, has a useful piece in USA Today, separating Social Security from the larger discussion on debt and deficits. As he notes, Social Security is not responsible for our long-term budget problems:
Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing. They are paid for with payroll taxes collected from workers and their employers throughout their careers. These taxes are placed in a trust fund dedicated to paying benefits owed to current and future beneficiaries. [...]
The conservative war on public-sector unions is having its intended effect:
There are deeply divided opinions and shifting allegiances over whether unions are helping or hurting people who have been caught in the recent economic squeeze. And workers themselves, being pitted against one another, are finding it hard to feel sympathy or offer solidarity, with their own jobs lost and their benefits and pensions cut back or cut off. [...]
In Palmyra, a small village bounded by farmland and forests, Mary Kay Horter remembered how her husband’s Chevy dealership had teetered on the brink of closing after General Motors declared bankruptcy, for which she blamed unions.
In Wisconsin and elsewhere, state-union relations are structurally out of whack.
That’s because public sector unions and private sector unions are very different creatures. Private sector unions push against the interests of shareholders and management; public sector unions push against the interests of taxpayers. Private sector union members know that their employers could go out of business, so they have an incentive to mitigate their demands; public sector union members work for state monopolies and have no such interest.