Between 1952 and 2011, corporate taxes dropped from 32 percent to 7.9 percent of all taxes collected by the federal government.
Today, many of the wealthiest Americans lead movements advocating cuts in programs that help middle-class Americans -- programs like Social Security and Medicare.
But Social Security and Medicare payments play no role whatsoever in creating our current economic problems and federal debt.
Industries central to American middle-class prosperity are shrinking or have disappeared, industries making shoes, clothing, machine tools, glassware, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, televisions, computers and cell phones.
Today, 90 percent of all the roses sold in the U.S. are imported, most of them from Colombia.
The last time we enjoyed a trade surplus was in 1973. The annual trade deficit grew from $6 billion in 1974 to $160 billion in 1987, near the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency.
The cumulative foreign trade deficit accumulated since 1976 tops $10 trillion.
The number of textile industry workers plummeted from 746,000 to 120,000 between 1984 and 2011, particularly harmful to workers in states like North Carolina.
"Every occupant of the White House, regardless or party, has been equally zealous in selling out workers on trade," Barlett and Steele argue.
Every president -- Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- has vigorously promoted "unrestrained free trade" with countries that pay their workers poverty-level wages and have no laws to protect workplace safety or the environment.
Clinton played the central role in passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, opposed by a minority of senators, including Byrd.
"The sword of Damocles for many U.S. truckers," Barlett and Steele warn, is a NAFTA provision to "allow commercial trucks from Mexico to use U.S. highways."
Legal actions and suits have delayed implementation of that provision.
But Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have all backed legislation to allow Mexican trucks to cross our borders -- a policy will devastate jobs held by American truckers and threaten road safety because Mexico has such weak vehicle regulations.
Congress, the new book emphasizes, has been "long indifferent to the plight of American workers."
Barlett and Steele also discuss other developments threatening the future of the middle class, including the disappearance of pensions.
Since 1985, U.S. corporations have terminated 84,350 company pension plans, frozen thousands of others and barred new employees from buying company pensions. Today, virtually no new pension plans are being created.
The number of top 100 companies, in the Fortune 500, that offered workers company pensions dropped from 67 to 17 between 1998 and 2010.
"The Betrayal of the American Dream's" is exemplified by the story of the reconstruction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. In 1989, an earthquake damaged the bridge, which had nearly 300,000 vehicles cross it every day.
Then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger played a central role in plans that eventually reconstructed the eight-mile long bridge -- importing steel from China rather than using steel made in the U.S.
In 2010, Schwarzenegger paid a visit to a factory in China praising its workers for making steel used for the new bridge.
Schwarzenegger's cost calculations totally ignored the negative impact of wages not paid to U.S. workers, wages that would have been spent to buy products from American businesses and to pay American taxes.
Multinational corporations and Wall Street analysts "view free trade as a way to hold down wages and increase profits. ...
"In exchange for short-term profits and hefty compensation, they are jeopardizing the country's future," the authors write.
"Congress has largely been on a 30-year holiday from economic reality -- at least as far as the middle class is concerned."
The fascinating and readable book ends by quoting the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis:
"We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvagzette.com or 304-348-5164.