Class Warfare - Pay Attention, America...
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You may have seen charts like the one to the right from the Economic Policy Institute , showing how working people’s wages stopped going up along with productivity gains. This means the gains went…somewhere else.
• In 2010, the top hedge fund manager earned as much in one HOUR as the average (median) family earned in 47 YEARS.
Because the tax code is complex, the calculator makes a number of simplifying assumptions that may differ from the circumstances of any particular user. It assumes all income is from wages. For married filers, it assumes that income is split evenly between two earners. It assumes that income does not vary over the years analyzed. It assumes that taxpayers claim the standard deduction for the purpose of analyzing the impact of the expiration of the middle class tax cuts.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock September 27, 2012 | Like this article?
If you’re plugged into the Internet, chances are you’ve seen a TED talk – the wonky, provocative web videos that have become a sort of nerd franchise. TED.com is where you go to find Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explaining why the world has too few female leaders, or Twitter cofounder Evan Williams sharing the secret power of listening to users to drive company improvement. The slogan of the nonprofit group behind the site is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” There’s one idea, though, that TED’s organizers recently decided was too controversial to spread: the notion that widening income inequality is a bad thing for America, and that as a result, the rich should pay more in taxes.
Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat. We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame.
When Mitt Romney bowed to political pressure and released his 2010 tax return, it showed, to no one's great surprise, that the Romneys are rich. Really, really rich. They reported income of more than $21 million, itemized deductions of over $4.5 million, and a total tax bill of just over $3 million. They made charitable contributions of almost $3 million, although more than half of that went to their church. But what really stood out in the tax return—beyond the presidential candidate's 13.9 percent tax rate —is not that Mitt makes a lot of money, it's that he has a lot of money.
In another sign that Democrats have embraced income inequality as a cause célèbre, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on the subject today. The committee's ranking Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, managed to look concerned during two hours of testimony about the kneecapping of the Middle Class—not that it should have been all that difficult. Here are some of the hearing's most striking charts:
Click here to see a pdf of this graphic We are not all in this together. The UK economy is flat, the US is weak and the Greek debt crisis, according to some commentators, is threatening another Lehman Brothers-style meltdown. But a new report shows the world's wealthiest people are getting more prosperous – and more numerous – by the day. The globe's richest have now recouped the losses they suffered after the 2008 banking crisis. They are richer than ever, and there are more of them – nearly 11 million – than before the recession struck. In the world of the well-heeled, the rich are referred to as "high net worth individuals" (HNWIs) and defined as people who have more than $1m (£620,000) of free cash.
The companies — which include household names like eBay, Boeing, General Electric and Verizon — averaged $1.9 billion each in profits, according to the study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal-leaning research group. But a variety of shelters, loopholes and tax reduction strategies allowed the companies to average $304 million each in tax benefits — which can be taken as a refund or used as write-off against earnings in future years. The chief executives of those companies were paid an average of more than $16 million a year, the study found, a figure substantially higher than the $10.8 million average for all companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. The financial data in the report was taken from the companies’ regulatory filings, which can differ from what is actually filed on a corporate tax return.
Although a proposed tax rate increase for top-level earners would reduce America's budget deficit by about $700 billion over 10 years, right-wing pundits on Fox News and elsewhere have decried it as "class warfare" that would only put a small dent in the national debt. The conservatives' plan? Lots of spending cuts on social programs. Oh, and new taxes on the poor!
Georgia is number 1 in something: locking people up, 1 in 13 of adults, according to the Pew Center on the States. That costs us more than a billion dollars a year in tax money, 5.9% of the state budget. That's up from $133.26 million in 1983, increased by more than a factor of seven. Meanwhile, the correctional population swelled from around 100,000 in 1982 to more than 550,000 in 2007.
As Monday’s White House budget talks got down to the nitty-gritty, Eric Cantor proposed a series of spending cuts, one of them aimed squarely at college students. The House majority leader, who did most of the talking for the Republican side, said those taking out student loans should start paying interest right away, rather than being able to defer payments until after graduation. It is a big-ticket item that would save $40 billion over 10 years. At one point, sources say, President Obama pushed back against the mounting menu of spending cuts while the tax column on the negotiating sheets remained blank. He asked the Republican leaders how they expected him to take their proposals seriously. “I’m not going to do that,” Obama said.
We’ve long known that executive pay has skyrocketed during the last 40 years — and especially during the last 20. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the average CEO makes roughly 300 times the average worker — up from 100 times the average in the early 1990s and 40 times the average in the 1970s. In this new Gilded Age, we are inundated with stories about how executives — even in taxpayer-subsidized industries like banking — are paying themselves record salaries. This is nothing new — in fact, it’s lately been a bragging point for firms in their efforts to attract talent.