The richest 10-15% – those cashing in on employers' good fortune from no longer-rising wages – helped bring on the crisis by speculating wildly and unsuccessfully in all sorts of new financial instruments (asset-backed securities, credit default swaps, etc). The richest also contributed to the crisis by using their money to shift US politics to the right, rendering government regulation and oversight inadequate to anticipate or moderate the crisis or even to react properly once it hit.
Indeed, the rich have so far been able to use the crisis to widen still further the gulf separating themselves from the rest, to finally bury American exceptionalism. First, they utilised both parties' dependence on their financial support to make sure there would be no mass federal hiring programme for the unemployed (as FDR used between 1934 and 1940). The absence of such a programme guaranteed that real wages would not rise and, with job benefits, would likely fall – as they indeed have done. Second, the rich made sure that the prime focus of government response to the crisis would benefit banks, large corporations and the stock markets. These have more or less "recovered".
Third, the current drive for government budget austerity – especially focused on the 50 states and the thousands of municipalities – forces the mass of people to pick up the costs for the government's unjustly imbalanced response to the crisis. The trillions spent to save the banks and selected other corporations (AIG, GM, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc) were mostly borrowed because the government dared not tax the corporations and the richest citizens to raise the needed rescue funds. Indeed, a good part of what the government borrowed came precisely from those funds left in the hands of corporations and the rich, because they had not been taxed to overcome the crisis.
I'm so glad to see someone writing this: "they utilised both parties' dependence on their financial support to make sure there would be no mass federal hiring programme for the unemployed (as FDR used between 1934 and 1940)."
I've kept calling and calling for full public employment ASAP! We also need publicly financed high-skills job training. Add those things to replacing Federal Reserve Notes with interest-and debt-free United States Notes to pay off the National Debt, and we'd be out of this depression almost overnight.
The one and only obstacle to the people having a much higher quality of life is the greed of the superrich. Stop following what they tell us to do. Start doing together what will end the tyranny of the "capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich" Plutocrats.