Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 4 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (4 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   5 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

How To Avoid Raising Taxes on the Middle Class or Cutting Programs the Middle and Poor Depend On

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 2   Valuable 2   Supported 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Become a Fan
  (105 fans)


Brace yourself. In coming weeks you'll hear there's no serious alternative to cutting Social Security and Medicare, raising taxes on middle class, and decimating what's left of the federal government's discretionary spending on everything from education and job training to highways and basic research.

"We" must make these sacrifices, it will be said, in order to deal with our mushrooming budget deficit and cumulative debt. 

But most of the people who are making this argument are very wealthy or are sponsored by the very wealthy: Wall Street moguls like Pete Peterson and his "End the Debt" brigade, the Business Roundtable, well-appointed think tanks and policy centers along the Potomac, members of the Simpson-Bowles commission. 

These regressive sentiments are packaged in a mythology that Americans have been living beyond our means: We've been unwilling to pay for what we want government to do for us, and we are now reaching the day of reckoning.  

The truth is most Americans have not been living beyond their means. The problem is their means haven't been keeping up with the growth of the economy -- which is why most of us need better education, infrastructure, healthcare, and stronger safety nets.

The real median wage is only slightly higher now than it was 30 years ago, even though the economy is twice as large.

The only people whose means have soared are at the very top, because they've received almost all the gains from growth. Over the last three decades, the top 1 percent's share of the nation's income has doubled; the top one-tenth of 1 percent's share, tripled. The richest one-tenth of 1 percent is now earning as much as the bottom 120 million Americans put together.

Wealth has grown even more concentrated than income (income is a stream of money, wealth is the pool into which it flows).   

The richest 1 percent now own more than 35 percent of all of the nation's household wealth, and 38 percent of the nation's financial assets -- including stocks and pension-funds.

Think about this: The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together. The six  Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 33 million American families combined.

So why are we even contemplating cutting programs the middle class and poor depend on, and raising their taxes?

We should tax the vast accumulations of wealth now in the hands of a relative few. 

To the extent they have any wealth at all, most Americans have it in their homes -- whose prices have stopped falling in most of the country but are still down almost 30 percent from their 2006 peak.

Yet homes are subject to the only major tax on wealth -- property taxes.

Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott have proposed a 2 percent surtax on the wealth of the richest one-half of 1 percent of Americans owning more than $7.2 million of assets.

They figure it would generate $70 billion a year, or $750 billion over the decade. That's more than the fiscal cliff deal raises from high-income Americans.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://robertreich.org/

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

The Minimum Wage, Guns, Healthcare, and the Meaning of a Decent Society

Why the Right-Wing Bullies Will Hold The Nation Hostage Again and Again

The Gas Wars

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
5 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
First, there should be NO cuts to human services, ... by E. J. N. on Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 9:05:17 PM
Back in the late 60's when I first heard of the Ne... by Dennis Kaiser on Friday, Jan 25, 2013 at 4:57:05 AM
Is there any way we could help get a Financial Tra... by hilarie malmberg on Friday, Jan 25, 2013 at 9:53:01 AM
I just read your intro but it is enough for me.&nb... by Suzana Megles on Monday, Jan 28, 2013 at 3:06:29 PM
I just want to know if Ackerman and Altott gonaa d... by Lynn Wilson on Saturday, Feb 2, 2013 at 11:53:07 PM