The problem has been around for years, but the big difference today is the Republicans are finally admitting there's a problem. They still haven't managed to make the jump over to doing anything about it, but at least they're talking about it. The hero worship for corporate "leaders" who are more about themselves then the good of all of their employees hasn't helped. Failing to modernize the tax code - which is at the core of the growth of the obscenely rich 0.01% - will only make the problem worse. The Republicans still throw around silly lines about wealth distribution, ignoring the fact that we have had wealth distribution, but it's been passed exclusively to the ultra-rich. We can either continue down our current path where income distribution is worse than many Third World countries or we can admit there's a problem and do something about it. NY Times:
“It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the U.S. does not have as much mobility as most other advanced countries,” said Isabel V. Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t think you’ll find too many people who will argue with that.” One reason for the mobility gap may be the depth of American poverty, which leaves poor children starting especially far behind. Another may be the unusually large premiums that American employers pay for college degrees. Since children generally follow their parents’ educational trajectory, that premium increases the importance of family background and stymies people with less schooling. At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.For the time being, Canada and parts of Europe remain much more fluid, where people can actually pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move into the middle class. It's a major failure of the political class that we are where we are. As long as we keep voting for the same bunch of incompetent clowns (and no, I wouldn't limit that to just one party) there's no reason to expect any change.