Mueller and the Bourgeoisie

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“If [Robert] Mueller doesn’t land a single additional indictment (and, to be clear, I think there will be more), he will have conducted one of most important counterintelligence investigations in U.S. history, something that will stand with cases like Aldrich Ames or the Rosenbergs,” Garrett Graff, the journalist and author of a book about the F.B.I., wrote this weekend.

“We should not allow Trump allies to minimize, downplay, or distract from what Mueller has already found — corruption and criminality at the heart of American politics,” Graff added.

Also: “Too many people have been waiting for Robert Mueller to formally say what we already know to be true: The levels of corruption, conflict of interest, and untruth in this administration are without parallel,” Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes. And this Lawfare guide, from Mikhaila Fogel, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes, offers four principles for understanding Mueller’s forthcoming work.

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

The state of the haute bourgeoisie

Is today’s upper middle class — that is, high-earning professionals who don’t tend to have major wealth — more similar to the truly wealthy or to the actual middle class? That question has been the subject of a big debate in recent years.

On one side are writers like Richard Reeves and my colleague David Brooks, who argue that the upper middle class is flourishing. On the other side are people like the economist Thomas Piketty and Senator Bernie Sanders, who say that the important divide is instead between the 1 percent and everyone else.

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I offer my answer to the question in my latest column. I think both sides have a point, but that it’s a mistake to divide the country into only two basic income groups. To make grand pronouncements about the American economy, you need to talk about three groups: the top 1 percent, the upper middle class and everyone else.

The column is based around a chart that I created with my colleague Sahil Chinoy. If you have thoughts, leave a comment alongside the column. I’ll respond to some reader comments later today.

In a related story, The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Kiernan reported this weekend: “Employee pay and benefits as a percentage of gross domestic income fell to 52.7% in last year’s third quarter, for the fourth straight quarterly decline, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It was as high as 59% in 1970 and 57% in 2001 … While the labor share has fallen, business profits are on the rise.”

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