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HELP Committee to Examine Why the Middle Class is Shrinking

Harkin: America can't have a vibrant economy without a vibrant middle class

WASHINGTON – Thursday at 9:15 A.M., Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, will convene the first in a series of events to examine why the middle class is increasingly slipping out of reach for Americans.  As corporate profits reach record levels, and the gulf between workers’ wages and their bosses’ salaries is larger than ever before, the Committee will discuss the policy decisions that have played a role in the erosion of the middle class and what can be done to turn things around before it’s too late.

“Today, the ‘American Dream’ is under attack. It used to be that if you put in a hard day's work, you could earn good American wages, good American benefits, and give your kids a better life than you had,” said Harkin. “Americans are working hard for less – over the past 30 years, real wages have remained stagnant or even declined for all except the richest Americans, while worker productivity increased by 80 percent.  Too many people dismiss this disturbing trend as a symptom of the recession, rather than recognizing that this dramatic change in our economy is the result of decades of deliberate policy choices. 

“It’s time for Washington to recognize that there can be no sustainable economic recovery if we don’t rebuild our middle class.  We need to make the economy work for American families again, and I hope this hearing can help bring focus to that discussion.”

The hearing will be webcast live at

Following the hearing, testimony and archived videos will be posted at:


HEARING: The Endangered Middle Class: Is the American Dream Slipping Out of Reach for American Families?

Robert B. Reich,
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor and currentlyChancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California Berkeley
Heather Boushey,
Senior Economist, Center for American Progress
Michael Luttig,
General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Boeing Company
Sarah Fox,
Legal Counsel, AFL-CIO

DATE: Thursday, May 12, 2011

TIME: 9:15 A.M.

PLACE: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building