The 21st century United States is a nation of great income inequality and entrenched poverty. Progressives have demanded federal action to fight these problems, but Republican control over the House has made this nearly impossible. However, campaigns on the local and state levels have begun to transform the debate over income inequality. Beginning in the 1990s, living wage campaigns in cities across the nation began showing how local communities can make a difference. Some of the nation’s most politically progressive cities began pushing for paid sick leave, domestic partner benefits, and card check for unionization.
In the last two years, Occupy Wall Street brought economic inequality to the attention of national politicians and opened space for political leaders to push for higher minimum wage laws.