Elizabeth Warren: 8 ways to restore the middle class

Elizabeth Warren in 85 seconds
Elizabeth Warren in 85 seconds

Though the economy has improved, America's middle class is being left behind, says Senator Elizabeth Warren.

A booming stock market, declining unemployment, rising economic growth and low inflation is only helping a select few in the country.

"The overall picture doesn't tell us much about what's happening at ground level to tens of millions of Americans," she said Wednesday. "Despite these cheery numbers, America's middle class is in deep trouble."

Speaking at the AFL-CIO's first National Summit on Wages, she repeated statistics on stagnant wage growth that has become her rallying cry. Warren, whom some hope will challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, has built her career on defending middle class and working Americans.

Ronald Reagan's trickle down economic theory -- that a growing economy would benefit all -- has failed the middle class, she told the crowd. Since 1980, 90% of Americans saw zero income growth.

Related: Elizabeth Warren: 'Wealth trickles up'

"The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago," said Warren, a Harvard bankruptcy law professor who was elected to the Senate in 2012.

Here's what Warren says should be done about it:

  • Raising the minimum wage so no one should work full-time and still live in poverty
  • Supporting the right for workers to bargain together
  • Enforcing labor laws so workers get overtime pay and pensions that are fully funded
  • Giving equal pay for equal work
  • Protecting Social Security, Medicare and pensions
  • Investing in roads, bridges, power grids, education and research to create good jobs in the short run and help build new opportunities over the long run
  • Making sure all Americans and corporations pay a fair share to build a future for all
  • Having trade policies and tax codes to strengthen the American economy, raise living standards and create jobs

Many of these efforts are already championed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. However, gridlock has prevailed on Capitol Hill in recent years. It's not likely to change even though Republicans captured both houses in November.

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