Tax scam will widen America’s wealth gap

Tax scam will widen America’s wealth gap

Republican tax plans speeding through Congress – touted as wonderful
for all of us – are scams that benefit the super-wealthy and put most
Americans’ quality of life at risk.
There are many reasons to condemn the plans, but here’s one hiding
in plain sight: The plans accelerate a growing wealth gap in America –
and threaten our way of life.
We think of America as a land of equals, where rights are universal
and opportunity is there to be seized. Right? Where a strong Middle Class
is our bedrock, and the American dream is available to all?
In fact, the Middle Class is shrinking, the American dream is a pipe
dream for many, and we’re descending into a land of haves and have-nots. Giving the biggest breaks to the wealthiest individuals and the largest corporations is not the way to fix this.
Sobering statistics:
* The U.S. minimum wage for entry-level workers, adjusted for
inflation, is about 24% lower than in 1965. Republicans oppose raising
the minimum wage.
* America ranks dead last among 21 developed countries in share of
wealth held by the Middle Class. Why would we transfer even more wealth
upward?
* The share of income by the top 1% in America has already doubled
in the last 36 years.
* From 1980 through 2015, the bottom 90% of Americans, by income,
received 0% of all new income in America. The top 10% got it all.
This highway to inequality was largely paved during Ronald Reagan’s
presidency — when unions shrank, tax rates on the very wealthy fell,
and “trickle-down” economists made empty predictions that prosperity
would just flow downstream to all Americans.
But economic studies show that prosperity doesn’t trickle down, it
mostly hardens at the top. And that puts our collective future at risk.
As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “We can
have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated
in the hands of a few – but we can’t have both.”
And as the Middle Class shrinks, so do Middle Class neighborhoods.
America is increasingly dividing geographically into extremes – startling
poverty here, stunning affluence there.
Not as much in the middle. According to the Pew Research Center,
America’s Middle Class households are now fewer than the total of lower-
and upper-income households. In 1971, there were 29 million more Middle
Class households than the combined upper and lower extremes.
It’s not just inequities in Republican tax plans that threaten
America. It’s what happens after the plans go into effect.
To avoid adding to our $19 trillion national debt – highest in the
world – Republicans will try to cut programs from Medicare to Medicaid to
education to Social Security. Benefits to low- and middle-income
Americans will be lost, costs will rise, more Americans will struggle,
and the Middle Class will continue to evaporate.
Unfortunately, that’s common sense.
But as more Americans see through these scams, opposition will be
galvanized. Spread the word.
Paul Anger
Metairie Indivisible