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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Two Americas

Admittedly John Edwards is not the most credible authority, but several stories in today's New York Times offers a sharp focus on the erstwhile Democratic hopeful's description of America's yawning inequality gap.

The Times introduces us to Doug Wallace Jr., a nearly blind 31-year-old college graduate with $89,000 in student loans who needs to prove a "certainty of hopelessness" in order to get some relief from his crushing debt.

We are also offered a look at the New York real estate market, where former Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill sold his Central Park West penthouse apartment for $88 million and experts are trying to compare real estate values to art.

What's the connection, aside from the similar numbers, give or take some zeroes?

Wallace and others in his position are paying the price imposed by Congress under increasingly tougher laws governing individual bankruptcy. Some may argue it's a fair penalty for fiscal irresponsibility in running up such debt.

Citigroup and its financial service industry compatriots are reaping the rewards of congressional indifference to the same sort of irresponsibility by Wall Street, unchecked behavior that has contributed mightily to the mortgage bubble and the looming student loan debt bubble.

The Obama administration has been less than forceful in going after Wall Street excess that started with the elimination of Glass-Stegall banking restrictions under Bill Clinton and escalated wildly under George W. Bush's watch.

But they will seem draconian under the vision painted by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who have charted a return to the Bad Old Days where Wall Streeters will see lower taxes and middle income Americans will be forced to find new ways to pay for health care after the repeal of ObamaCare and the voucherization of Medicare.

The bright side? Yacht owners won't have to be quite so cost-conscious, pinching pennies on operating costs.

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