Sunday, November 7, 2010

A (Banana) Republic, If You Can Keep It

Nick Kristoff notes that the GOP House will most likely not reverse the wealth imbalance in this country.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

That’s the backdrop for one of the first big postelection fights in Washington — how far to extend the Bush tax cuts to the most affluent 2 percent of Americans. Both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires. Republicans would also cut taxes above that.

The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.

At a time of 9.6 percent unemployment, wouldn’t it make more sense to finance a jobs program? For example, the money could be used to avoid laying off teachers and undermining American schools.

Likewise, an obvious priority in the worst economic downturn in 70 years should be to extend unemployment insurance benefits, some of which will be curtailed soon unless Congress renews them. Or there’s the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps train and support workers who have lost their jobs because of foreign trade. It will no longer apply to service workers after Jan. 1, unless Congress intervenes.

So we face a choice. Is our economic priority the jobless, or is it zillionaires? 

Well, since the people controlling our economic priorities in this country are the zillionaires, I'm betting it's the latter.  A $680 billion jobs program or a $680 billion tax cut for the top 2%?

I don't know anybody making $250,000 a year, but I know people who have been out of work for a long time and have families to feed.  And somehow, I see the former helping more than the latter.


StarStorm said...

But see, jobs programs won't create jobs! Only tax cuts can create jobs!



Anonymoron said...

didn't one of Z's moronic trolls recently advocate cutting corporate taxes to zero with the promise that millions of jobs would be created as a result?

ugh. fucking morons.

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