What follows here is a simplified, clarified and abbreviated version of a recent Z Magazine article.
The programs and policies of the past three years have fundamentally failed to generate an economic recovery--except, of course, for the big banks, large corporations, and wealthy investors.
Meanwhile many in the middle class -- 100 million of us, including all the hourly wage earners and the 90 million households earning annual incomes less than $90,000 (Main Street USA) -- still languish in the economic swamp of our continuing recession.
Those suffering the worst are:
- the 25 million unemployed,
- the 10 million homeowners who have experienced foreclosures and bank seizures of their homes, with another million forecast to be added to their number this year
- the tens of millions of workers confronted today with declining real wages and with rising double-digit health-care premiums,
- the millions of students overwhelmed with accelerating education costs, insurmountable indebtedness, and ever more inadequate job prospects
- the tens of millions with shrinking pensions.
And now, about to join their ranks, are millions of public employees who, thanks to Republican zealots like Scott Walker, will soon find themselves hammered on all fronts. Meanwhile, all 115 million American households in 2011 will face accelerating costs for food, gasoline, and local government taxes and fees.
Raising Revenue For the Rich, the Hard Way
There is now more clearly than ever a two-tiered America--and the gap between the two tiers keeps getting wider. From 1980 to 2007 the wealthiest 1% of households saw their share of total income triple, from 8% of the total to a whopping 24% of the total, by 2007. What fundamentally changed after 2007 is that, in order to continue to ensure that the wealthiest 1% continue to increase their share of income, it is no longer sufficient merely to freeze income gains for the bottom 90%. Instead, income is now being directly transferred from the bottom 90% to the top 10%, especially to the top 1%, and even more especially to the top half of 1%. For that reason, programs to help children, the sick, the disabled and the elderly must be cut. Meanwhile, Republicans insist that obscenely profitable oil companies should not have to pay any royalties on their hundreds of billions in oil profits, thus costing taxpayers an additional $53 billion over the next decade.
Also, it should be pointed out that this widening income and benefits gap is a highly conservative estimate. For example, the IRS data on which it is based does not account for income received by the wealthiest households and corporations if it is not reported to the IRS--I refer of course to income that is diverted offshore in order to avoid having it taxed.