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The state of America's middle class appears to be in continuing decline, despite surprisingly good news today from the Commerce Department. In the third quarter the US economy grew at an annual rate of 5% -- the strongest increase since 2003. We hear about the under-employment of educated people, the bleak outlook for Millennials and the financial plight of racial minorities.

On today's Talking Point, could beef be good — for both you and the planet?

Photo: Joe Mabel

Producers:
Benjamin Gottlieb
Claire Martin
Evan George

US Economy Grows Most Since 2003 6 MIN, 18 SEC

The state of America's middle class appears to be in continuing decline, despite surprisingly good news today from the Commerce Department.  In the third quarter — July, August and September -- the US economy grew at an annual rate of 5% -- the strongest increase since 2003.  Michelle Jamrisko, who reports on the economy for Bloomberg News, considers the latest figures.

Guests:
Michelle Jamrisko, Bloomberg News (@mljamrisko)

More:
Fed Chair Janet Yellen on expanding economic activity

Is America Losing Its Middle Class? 35 MIN, 12 SEC

There's good news today: the US economy grew 5% in the summer quarter.  But bad news continues: that growth is not trickling down to everyone. The gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is now the biggest on record, and it's not likely to get much smaller any time soon. Opportunities are not what they were before the Recession—let alone before high-paying manufacturing jobs went overseas. We hear about the under-employment of educated people, the bleak outlook for Millennials and the financial plight of racial minorities.

Guests:
Jim Tankersley, Washington Post (@jimtankersley)
Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California, Santa Barbara (@UCSBHistory)
Caroline Baum, independent economics journalist (@cabaum1)
Mechele Dickerson, University of Texas-Austin (@amdickerson)

More:
Tankersley's series 'Liftoff and Letdown'
Brittany Bronson's op-ed in the New York Times
President Obama's year-end press conference
Michael Lewis on public-private partnerships

Making the Case for Eating Beef 8 MIN, 10 SEC

Beef dinners have been a Christmas tradition for many American families, but more and more cooks are hearing, "I don't eat red meat anymore." Consumption of beef and animal fats has been declining — on doctor's orders. Beyond that, cattle have long been blamed for climate change.

Nicolette Hahn Niman is a vegetarian – and a cattle rancher. Her book, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, has earned some praise even from the food guru Michael Pollan.

Guests:
Nicolette Hahn Niman, rancher and former environmental attorney (@BN_Ranch)

More:
Livestock's Long Shadow

Defending Beef

Nicolette Hahn Niman

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