The Middle Class Remains on Life-Support in "The Betrayal of the American Dream"

Sep 14, 2012

On this edition of ST, we speak by phone with James B. Steele. He and Donald L. Barlett are the nation's most honored investigative reporting team, having worked together for more than four decades. Now based at Vanity Fair magazine, Barlett and Steele are the only reporting team ever to have received two Pulitzer Prizes for newspaper reporting and two National Magazine Awards for magazine work. (Per the Columbia Journalism Review: "Barlett and Steele's preeminent talent is their knack for combining the micro and the macro. They look systemically at issues and policies, from the U.S. tax code to healthcare.) Their latest book, just recently published, is "The Betrayal of the American Dream." As Steele tells us on today's show, when it comes to the ever-worsening assault on the American middle class, our nation's seriously lagging employment rate is just the tip of the iceberg --- indeed, it's actually rather removed from what Steele and his colleague call "the betrayal of the American dream." As one critic of this book (in a starred review in the pages of Booklist) has noted: "Barlett and Steele address key elements of this 'betrayal' (globalization, outsourcing, taxes, pensions, financial-sector dominance), then offer suggestions for reversing it, including progressive tax reform, fair trade, infrastructure investment, focused retraining, and criminal prosecution of white-collar criminals." And further, as a reviewer of this volume has noted in The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Just in time for this year's election, Barlett and Steele are continuing the crusade to save the American middle class that they began two decades ago as star investigative reporters.... The publication of 'The Betrayal of the American Dream' during the home stretch of the national political campaign injects a provocative populist imperative into an increasingly intense and perhaps decisive partisan debate over the fate of the American middle class."