Even though there are Tea Party protests about high taxes, a USA Today analysis of federal data shows that Americans paid the lowest level of taxes last year since the Harry Truman's presidency. Federal, state, local, property, sales, and other taxes are 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950.
This is also true of multimillionaires and billionaires, who pay a maximum 35 percent income tax on salaries and not a penny in Social Security taxes on the vast majority of their income.
And when, like hedge fund managers, banksters, and health insurance company CEOs often do, they can call their income dividends and capital gains and pay a maximum 15 percent income tax.
So billionaires pay 15 percent income tax and virtually no Social Security tax, and they are doing everything they can to keep it that way, funding entire think tanks and PR machines and Tea Parties to keep the anti-tax waters boiling.
They're scared to death that anybody may remember that from the 1930s to the 1980s the top income tax rate was between 74 and 91 percent - a level only paid by millionaires - which kept CEO salaries reasonable and built the strongest middle class the world had ever seen.
Now, with those top tax rates down to 15 percent for rich people, the middle class in America is vanishing, while countries like Denmark and Germany that still have 70 percent or higher income tax rates on millionaires have strong, robust, and growing middle classes.
Time to roll back the Reagan tax cuts!
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com
His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
," "We The People
," "What Would Jefferson Do?
," "Screwed: The Undeclared War