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Friday, October 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — You may think that government takes a lot of money from the wealthy and gives it to poor people. You might also assume that the rich pay a lot to support government while the poor pay a pittance.

There is nothing wrong with you if you believe this. Our public discourse is dominated by these ideas, and you’d probably feel foolish challenging them. After Mitt Romney’s comments on the 47 percent blew up on him, conservatives have largely given up talking publicly about their “makers versus takers” distinction. But much of the right’s rhetoric and many of its policies are still based on such notions.

It is thus a public service that the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has issued a report showing that at the state and local level, government is, indeed, engaged in redistribution — but it’s redistribution from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy.

It’s entirely true that better-off people pay more in federal income taxes than the less well-to-do. But this leaves out not only Social Security taxes, but also what’s going on elsewhere.

The institute found that in 2015, the poorest fifth of Americans will pay, on average, 10.9 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes and the middle fifth will pay 9.4 percent. But the top 1 percent will pay states and localities only 5.4 percent of their incomes in taxes.

When you think about it, such figures should not come as a surprise. Most state and local governments rely on regressive taxes — particularly sales and excise levies. Poor and middle-class people pay more simply because they have to spend the bulk of their incomes just to cover their costs.

This gets to something else we don’t discuss much: Public policies in most other well-to-do countries push much harder against inequality than ours do. According to the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), the United States ranks 10th in income inequality before taxes and government transfers. By this measure, Ireland and Britain, and even Sweden and Norway, are more unequal than we are. But after government transfers are taken into account, the good old USA soars to first in inequality. Norway drops to 6th place and Sweden to 13th.

It’s not a matter about which we should be proud to shout, “We’re No. 1!”

Actually, things may be a bit worse for us even on pre-transfer incomes, said LIS Director Janet Gornick, because people in the other rich countries tend to draw their pensions earlier.

The overall story is that we are not very aggressive, with apologies to Joe the Plumber, in spreading the wealth around. “Our inequality is already high because of the low minimum wage, the weakness of unions and very high levels of private-sector compensation at the top,” Gornick, a professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, said in a telephone interview from Luxembourg. “But on top of that, we are redistributing less than other countries and also have lower taxes on the highest incomes, particularly income from capital.”

And at the state and local levels, our governments are exacerbating inequality. The ITEP study concludes that “every single state and local tax system is regressive and even the states that do better than others have much room for improvement.” The five states with the most regressive systems are Washington, Florida, Texas, South Dakota and Illinois.

On its face, the property tax would seem progressive, because big houses are taxed more. But the study finds that on average, “poor homeowners and renters pay more of their incomes in property taxes than do any other income group — and the wealthiest taxpayers pay the least.”

There is also an unanticipated consequence of growing economic disparities: Because states and localities tax the wealthy less, “rising income inequality can make it more difficult for state tax systems to pay for needed services over time. The more income that goes to the wealthy, the slower a state’s revenue grows.”

Political debates are typically driven by clichés , but at the very least, we can expect our clichés to be true. We need to stop claiming that we have a massively redistributive government. We need to stop pretending that poor people are “takers” when they in fact kick in a lot to the common pot. And we need to replace arguments about “big” and “small” government with a debate over what governments at all levels are doing to make our society more just — or less.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is [email protected] Twitter: @EJDionne.

AFP Photo/Joe Raedle

  • Dan Schoonover

    Thank you for this eye opening article….

  • Dominick Vila

    Excellent article. Our government, at all levels, puts in place repressive policies designed to support accumulation and retention of wealth, while it does little to nothing to help those who need help the most. Incredibly, the financial inequality that exists in the USA is likely to get worse before a public outcry force our government institutions to do something to change the status quo.
    Our minimum wage is an embarrassment, and it is clearly insufficient to guarantee the ability of fellow Americans to support themselves.
    Social Security, a government-run pension plan that some on the right like to portray as a “freebie” is anything but, and it is also insufficient for its beneficiaries to support themselves at a time when they are often unable to work and afford the most basic things needed to survive or be independent. The same goes for MEDICARE and the ACA. Our focus should not be to get rid these programs and replace them with private sector mirages that have never materialized, but to find ways to strengthen them, and make them more cost effective and efficient.
    The fact that subsidies to help low middle class Americans pay healthcare premiums is being debated by the Supreme Court, while subsidies to multi-millionaire farmers and to corporations that are posting record profits remain intact and their need is not questioned highlights the hypocrisy of those who demonize anything that helps those who have been left behind by an economy that is helping those who have it all; and continue to demand more help for those who don’t need our help.
    Our tax rates are skewed to help the wealthy, on the false premise that the more money they have, the more crumbs the rest of us will get, ignoring that in recent decades higher profits simply means more money to seek financial opportunities abroad, rather than in the USA.
    Tax shelters that allow some of the wealthiest Americans to stash part of their loot overseas to avoid paying their fair share to Uncle Sam are not used by those who earn minimum wage, or to most middle class Americans. Only the privileged one have access to such “shelters”, protected by government institutions that look the other way when it is clear that the profits and assets of the wealthiest Americans are inconsistent with the earnings they report when they file their income taxes.
    Something must be done to change the status quo, and the sooner it happens the better.

  • Gary Miles

    I’m sorry, but this article is less than genuine. Let me first say that I’m as pissed at how government works as any of you. I’m not happy with the way tax dollars and laws and regulations have been used over a long period of time to benefit the wealthy. With that said, the article makes some very common sense things seem like a big deal because the “study” said so. The study is nothing more than trying to play on the emotions of the emotional when it comes to the less wealthy. With a small amount of economic literacy it is easy to pick out the emotional pleas. This, lassie and gentleman is how propaganda works. It attacks your emotion to elicit a response.

    It is also a major contradiction in what it is trying to achieve in your emotional response. Most here will be saying “WE want government to fix this and redistribute money to the poor” and then when you are fooled to think that it happens, you will cheer. Then in a few years, you will learn that the thing you cheered about is doing the opposite of what you thought it did. Then you will scream “WE want government to fix this and redistribute money to the poor” , and the circle jerk continues. Not to piss anyone off, but the ACA is a perfect example. Read the law (it took me 3 times and about 2 weeks to do so). The insurance industry and it’s investors became billionaires. The 48 million people that were uninsured in 08 are still so today and will be in the years to come. Remember, there are NO COST CONTROLS in the law.

    In conclusion, I challenge anyone to look at the article and find the statements that are simple common sense statements made to get an emotional response. This is a great exercise for all of us, despite our political leanings to learn about how propaganda is working AGAINST all of us. I would like to give my Best Wishes to all of you and your families on this fine day! PEACE!

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      I want my tax dollars used as the Constitution states. Your post is the only inaccuracy and panders to the expected GOP ideology of handing our tax revenues in landfills to Big Businesses. They don’t hire or create US jobs. It is NOT our responsibility to keep men who own businesses from failing to properly manage their businesses. Sorry but you are wrong. The only emotions I read are in your post…a desperate cry for more more more …typical greed.

      AT what point does the GOP stop inflicting its failing ideology of conservatism on the rest of us? Have the Bush/Cheney years that ended in a Sept. 2008 Financial Meltdown and the worst recession taught you nothing?

      Common sense is using tax revenues to bolster the country. Not Big Business. Oh gee, I’ve met your challenge. The course your post sets is to continue the downward spiral of education, labor and progress in the USA. All while 35 billionaires live on our tax revenues.

      If you can’t run your business without my tax dollars, YOU don’t belong in Business.

      • Gary Miles

        Good Day Ma’am, Sorry, but you haven’t accomplished anything that I asked. I was very clear in my post, and it mostly agrees with you as far as taxes are spent. Your first sentence: “I want my tax dollars used as the Constitution states”, is PERFECT and I am in agreement. I also feel the same way about State and local taxes. I’m somewhat lucky as where I live doesn’t have the types of issues that urban areas have. Our limited tax dollars are used for what they are intended.

        Please reread my post, as I was NOT asking for more, but explaining what the article is wanting the readers to do in response to the emotional pleas, which while correct are nothing more than emotional propaganda. If you read carefully, you will see my points ,ore clearly. You simply automatically assumed I’m a GOPer. That is quite incorrect.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          When I listened to the hearings for Keystone this week, I was astounded at the lies told by ND’s Senator John Hoehner. This is just one example of deliberate deception. What the government asks today is not what the Constitution demands.

          There’s a real joke among the CEOs I’ve worked with, “We can rip off our employees more than we can our customers.” (Spoken by one CEO I worked with).

          The reality is that the impetus in government today is to create zero loss of corporate profit. That’s simple to do. First, corporations pay employees who then pay corporate tax subsidies out of what they earned. Next, employees pay back what they earned when they buy necessities from goods and services from the corporate “company stores” with price gouging and extortion of wages.

          What I see today is a return to pre-Civil War attitudes that labor should be free. In a democracy of the people, FOR the people, BY the people, corporations speak only in powerful dollars they receive mostly from employees as consumers and taxpayers.

          The belief that their “FORCE” is with us allows total convenient deafness to the demands of the rest us to provide privilege to the few.

          I am not worried. I know rich men are all too humanly fallible and tend to create their own financial disasters.

          • Gary Miles

            It appears that you can see the problem with government involvement in the peoples business (Yes, I mean all of it). It is easy to fix the problems at work places and dealing with the big corp companies that are doing wrong. Employees can still unionize if they choose. I was a Teamster, been down that road. If large business’s are doing wrong, publicize it and stop utilizing them. Find other places to buy your good. If our entire government wasn’t bought and paid for by the rich, we could fix these problems. Yet, in two years you will go and vote for a candidate that is bought and paid for. The circle jerk continues to go round and round.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I worked for 3 CEOs, one of whom became a senator before he died in 2012. I was privy to board meetings as a recording secretary for their meeting minutes. How I ever managed to concentrate with the amount of skankage that went on in those board meetings was nothing short of a miracle.

            If employees only knew…They would be incensed that CEOs and board members are such slime balls. How many employees know their employers get a cut in their own healthcare insurance just for enrolling a specific number of employees? How many employees know that every fiscal budget drawn up includes government tax subsidies they have yet to receive?

            This is just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, the link between corporations and politics is one few pay much attention to: The US Chamber of Commerce. If employees only knew…how much of the campaign funding is filtered through the C of C and how politicians are influenced to legislate certain bills that aim at retrieving paychecks earned by employees?

            If employees are paying taxes that pay corporate tax subsidies, how then are our incomes really ours? How is allowing the House GOP to decide who our taxes will be dispersed to which of their cronies democracy? Employees buy their employers products, they pay the taxes that keep their employers in business and then they are expected to continue to go broke with stagnated salaries that keep profits healthy enough to fatten CEO salaries.

            Blowback can be a bitch. But, it’s coming.

          • Gary Miles

            Eleanore, you reply has really peaked my curiosity. I believe what you say and would love to read these things in a more detailed matter, but for now, let me say I have no reason to not believe you. I too have had dealings with CEO’s and other high level management as a Teamster Rep. But the retrieving paychecks part, can you elaborate at some point of time in the future. I would like to say, I’m not a GOPer and I’m not a Democrat either. I fall closer, but not quite, to an anarchist. Anarchist’s are not evil by any means, but I also don’t think that our society, as large as it is, cannot have some form of government to handle things like roads and such. While I truly believe our Federal government no longer represents the people, I’m not going to pretend that both clans (Democrats and Republicans) are not equally corrupt. You asked ” How is allowing the House GOP to decide who our taxes will be dispersed to which of their cronies democracy?” My answer is, who is allowing this seemingly illegal activity? Do you have an example or proof of this?

            Not only is what you are claiming unethical, it’s also illegal. Please elaborate!

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Government is nothing more than the basic format for law and order. Anarchy, if I understand it, is the ideal that society needs no laws or order.

            I’m a progressive populist. What’s happened in the USA today is that some men are all too full of themselves. The US Constitution is based on the form of British Government that has served to keep law and order far longer than in the US. Yet, many who read and interpret law in the US do so through the prism of ideology. That isn’t law. That’s just ideology enforcement.

            Anarchy is already in our streets. Cops being shot, children murdered in their classrooms and all at the behest of a few miscreants with mental problems who want to all be the Master of the Universe. I’m just glad I won’t be around for the Finale of Mad Max World Redoux.

            What I meant by retrieving our paychecks is simple. The work any employee performs under the Constitutional laws is a mutually agreed upon legal and binding contract that basically simple: The employer from the moment he advertises for an open position is bound by law to provide that job to the candidates who are most capable of fulfilling the duties of the job. The employee’s part of the legal and binding contract is to do the job according to the job description provided prior to the start of work by employer.

            You can see already where this has gotten off the track. Today, employers play “Bait and Switch.” They bait employers with misleading ads that state “competitive salaries,” when the competitors they are speaking of are those who pay the lowest possible salaries. They also state in ads, “employee benefits provided.” Yes..provided by the employee, not the employer.

            Then, the job begins. The employee, in good faith expects to be paid for the work. But, discovers that employees pay for their own pensions and benefits. 35% of their income gone. All while payroll tax deductions removed from their paychecks go right back to employers in the form of business tax subsidies and exemptions. It’s a vicious circle that employers are fully aware of. Many keep those payroll deductions in interest bearing accounts until it’s time to disperse them to the IRS or the investment manager for 401KS.

            As for proof, I worked in a small business where the employer crashed the 401K, never told the employees, all while deductions were still taken from paychecks for a 401K we didn’t have for more than 18 months. He only got caught when the eldest employee turned age 72 and had to take money out of the 401K and couldn’t. That’s how the SEC got involved.

            It’s a very easy matter for employers to withhold payroll deductions from which they make a tidy little profit in interest. Hold a few hundred thousand for a week before dispursement and that’s not a bad little profit.

            I have two sons. One works in a company that refuses to cover any benefits at all. Doesn’t pay for vacation or sick time. And then, decides because he’s also a Jewish Rabbi, he’s taking the High Holy Days off for 4 days, one of which is an unpaid day off for his employees.

            Of course these are unethical. But, employers all believe that they can do just as they please in business because it’s THEIR business… isn’t ..not when they help themselves to tax subsidies their employees are paying in federal tax deductions from their paychecks.

          • Gary Miles

            Thank you for sharing those details. First, I wouldn’t be concerned with true anarchy. And even true anarchy has law and order. The natural laws of man will always apply, like not murdering or stealing, etc. It won’t ever happen here, sans some major catastrophic event that would cause the 90% death of all life in North America (like a deadly disease that can’t be stopped). I would say no reason for concern.

            You gave some excellent examples of some rather shameful actions of some companies you are aware of. Let me first address those actions and how to deal with them. Find a new job, make their actions very public and move on. Or, get your local government involved and have it dealt with by a local ordinance. Of course, your job will be on the line for doing so, and whether or not to follow your convictions is a personal decision.

            After my Honorable Discharge from the USAF, I held several jobs with different sized companies, the last being a hospital where I was a union rep. There are no laws that I know of that require an employee to accept any benefits such as retirement or health insurance. Even today, an employee may opt out of health insurance and pay the TAX associated with the ACA. The employee always has the right to find a better job (as I did). In a free country, there is no inherent right to employment. Employees do however, have the right to organize and form a union, which is protected by law. This gives the employees a legal means of getting what many consider fairness.

            As far as companies getting government funds. I’m with you on this one, it should never happen. But, both clans do it and do it openly, Obama included. I was 100% against the bailouts. I’m 100% against subsidies of any kind going to a private company. Sadly, it happens.

            However, any claim that only one clan (GOP) does this is completely incorrect. This is done by all politicians, Democrat and Republican alike. We all call it PORK and all of them attach them to bills in order to have their vote for the bill “bought and paid for”. This is how Congress works. This is why I call them corrupt, because their ethics can be bought. So can their promises to the people that elected them.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Why should “I” have to find a new job when an employer is criminally negligent? I and my fellow co-workers were employed by the original owner for over a decade and were all close to retirement age. Too young to retire and too old to compete with the young boy geniuses out there.

            The problem in the company I worked was that a very honest, decent employer retired and sold it to another honest decent employer with a skank for a son. Then, the second owner died 2 years after we all stayed on. Once Genius Boy got hold of the company, the slime ball tactics began.

            I am a firm believer in “What goes around, comes around.”

    • mah101

      Just exactly what is it in this study that you find objectionable? Certainly we can have a discussion about what it means to pay more taxes – is that measured by percentage of income going to taxes or rather by total dollars? That’s a valid question, with good arguments for both perspectives. If, however, you want to address the question of opportunity, as much of our debate today does, then the percentage of income measure is more appropriate.

      • Gary Miles

        Good Day Mah!, you asked ” Just exactly what is it in this study that you find objectionable?
        This not objectionable, it is common sense and it is only put in the article to get an emotional response:

        On its face, the property tax would seem progressive, because big houses are taxed more. But the study finds that on average, “poor homeowners and renters pay more of their incomes in property taxes than do any other income group — and the wealthiest taxpayers pay the least.”

        Why would a “study” state the obvious if not to get an emotional response? That’s all it is. Taxes are certainly the discussion and it’s being misspent by those elected. This is nothing new and has been going on for at least a Century. I believe this year is the anniversary of the progressive income tax. It was promised to never exceed 3%. Yea, gotta love promises from politicians. Same with Social Security, just another promise that was never intended to be what they claimed. If you would like to discuss opportunity, I’m OK with that too. Let’s begin by getting government out of everything that’s holding opportunity back. If your not willing to do that, you might as well just beat your head against a brick wall, because you will never improve opportunity through government action. We can agree on many things, but first we must leave emotions out of the conversation. This article is nothing more than a plea on one’s emotions to get the readers to demand more government action. I’ll stop here and let you consider this response. Please have a wonderful day!

      • idamag

        The study does not support his preconceived notions

    • Dominick Vila

      This may surprise you, but one of the most determined advocates of corporate tax reform is none other than President Obama, who is likely to work with the GOP leadership to ensure our tax system fosters economic growth, investment at home, and job creation.
      Don’t confuse endorsement of some of the things cited in an article, with ignorance of economic fundamentals, or support for “redistribution” of wealth to any segment of our population. There must be a balance when it comes to public sector investment and spending, to achieve prosperity for all, and we are all well aware of that. Nobody is suggesting the demise of the private sector or believes it should be replaced with a socialist system. Most of us support capitalism, we simply expect every American to have a fair chance to pursue the so-called American dream. Giving some all the opportunities to succeed and accumulate more wealth, while denying those who need help the most livable wages is not the way to go.

      • Gary Miles

        Let’s start with your statement “This may surprise you, but one of the most determined advocates of corporate tax reform is none other than President Obama……”

        He has said this. He also had two full years to do something about it with a Democrat controlled Congress. What happened?

        Dom, you seem like a nice person who is intelligent and caring of others. Your points are well taken as well. I will simply say that the best action government to take to do all that you mentioned is to remove itself completely from the areas that will foster what you desire. Nothing that government can do, other than steal more money, will change anything. If the other clan (Republican’s) run the Federal government as the Democrats did in Obama’s first two years, nothing will happen. If your clan regains control, nothing will happen. Nothing will happen that will help those who are not wealthy. Your response is exactly what the article wanted, an emotional response wanting more government involvement. The circle jerk continues because of propaganda like this article.

        • Gary Miles

          My apologies for not extending my best wishes to you and your family. Have a great day!

        • idamag

          Obviously, you don’t understand fillibuster and its misuse. Also, it is not only Republicans who have obstructed the Black President, but many Democrats.

        • johninPCFL

          Gary, you are repeating the “two full years” fiction. To get there Congress has to be in full-time session (it wasn’t), illnesses and deaths (like Ted Kennedy’s) must be ignored, and both independents must vote with the Democrats (they didn’t). The actual count is more like 12 weeks fragmented cross the two years.

          • Lynda Groom

            Too bad so many don’t understand the difference between seats in the Senate and actual number serving. Death, illness and death did indeed make the period of ‘Democratic’ control only a few weeks. The requirement for 60 votes to move anything along kept that Congress from dealing with the issue of tax reform. Whatever that expression may mean.

      • Whatmeworry

        It sure wasn’t Reagan

    • Kurt CPI

      Nevertheless, the math is correct.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    When you have been a Republican for 33 years, you learn one, sad, inalienable fact about GOP conservatism. It is based totally on the idea that tax revenues should benefit business. Behind that facade is the GOP ideology of conservatism that somehow, by flushing 50% of all tax revenues to businesses, they will be the backbone of jobs for laborers. Is that what’s happened since the Gingrichians landed from Planet Greedhead?

    You bet it isn’t. Now..if you are a rational, moderately math savvy American, you know that the GOP hates to raise taxes on the 1% or businesses, always using the threat that these businesses will move…really? Will they? Well, let’s see…with the huge number of American businesses offshore in tax free havens, did that benefit them? Yes. It saves them from paying American salaries, benefits and of course, US taxes.

    The reality is that with every tax exemption we hand to the 1% and corporations, someone has to fill in the gaps from that lost revenue. What about that don’t CONs get?

    Then, you get GOP governors playing silly word games like “fees” and “surcharges” to avoiding calling these what they are: covert taxes.

    Where in the US Constitution does it state that American tax dollars are for the sole benefit of 1% or Corporations? It doesn’t.

    It’s time to call the bluff of the GOP Big Business boys. Our roads, bridges and tunnels are in dangerous disrepair and all they want is to get rid of SS. Of course, we know why. They want the entire government in the hands of private Big Business CEOs. And wouldn’t that be a real feather in their caps come campaign contribution time? It’s awfully funny how “conflict of interest” is now somehow acceptable by the GOP.

    • Kurt CPI

      What you say is true, but it’s not that simple. As you mentioned, businesses moving offshore don’t employ Americans, pay American taxes, support the system. And yes, they will move. Just ask Burger King (not even a manufacturing entity). The other point is that corporations are owned by shareholders. that includes the 401Ks that are middle-America’s retirement plans, so corporate profits don’t just go into the pockets of the board members. Lower corporate profits mean lower-valued shares, lower dividends paid to shareholders, etc. That also hurts the economy.
      What needs to be done instead is to remove the incentive to move. Strike back at offshore manufacturing through import tariffs. Make it far less attractive to move to Indonesia. Unfortunately that’s about as likely to happen (in a R or D Congress) as finding a giraffe in my back yard.

  • Kurt CPI

    This is sound math. It’s also probably the most manipulated data that exists. It’s easy to create a chart that compares the taxes of a $60K income to those of a $600K income. Obviously the higher earner pays more tax – a LOT more in terms of dollars. The difference is that once the average wage-earner has paid the sum of their federal and state taxes, payroll deductions, gas, utility, business, excise, licensing, property, etc. taxes, they might have enough left to eat and pay the bills. The $600K earner pays his 30% (a lot of money – no question) but in the end still has $420K – plenty to buy food and pay rent to say the least.

  • neeceoooo

    It is wonderful how much EJ is with his insight into the working of our government, thank you.

  • dpaano

    I have to agree with this article….I am a lower middle-class individual, and I pay a very high share of taxes, both property and otherwise. Yet, I see rich individuals (some of them Senators or Congressmen/women) getting farm subsidies, oil subsidies, etc. Why are they getting money when they are already wealthy! Yet, the Republicans want to lower even more our Social Security benefits, our SS Disability benefits, our Medicare benefits, etc. They keep thinking that an “austerity” program works when it has all been proven that it does not!!! How can we EVER get them to listen!!

  • quills

    Finally some sobering critique of the facts! I’ve been saying for years now, that the media lets republicans and corporations control this false narrative that Reagonomics, bad supply side policies and the current tax laws have been good for the economy.
    A simple pie chart confirms, without a doubt, that government and the 1% have been redistributing the wealth “from the middle class to the 1% (not the other way around) for over 40 years now”! There is no trickle-down as even the critics claim. It has been a siphon-up system from the beginning, like slot machines, designed to slowly steal every last dime from the other 99%……then what? They are drunk on all their money! They actually think that they are the goose that lays the golden eggs, when actually they are the “foxes raiding the hen house”! Mainstream media will never report this truth in earnest because they are owned and supported by, who else… the 1%….that’s sad.

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      Each side blames the other when in reality they are in it together. They keep the masses fighting between parties while they as you put it: “raid the hen house”

    • Bill

      Its just another case of the golden rule “the man with the gold makes the rules” just look who’s making up the changes to Dodd Frank, the banks. The GOP won’t be happy until the middle class and the poor are turned back into slaves to the rich, having to shop once more at the company store.

  • 1standlastword

    These insights illustrate why republican economic policy is organically bad for common class Americans. It also shows how cynical and malevolent the upper crust has become in the new millennium. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: When regressive domestic tax policy is married to the “sexy” trade agreements our leaders love to support as “good for our economy” we can see the common class American is a wine press and the screw being turned downward. IMHO it’s an entire political class–not just republicans, overseeing the sale and diminution of America and Americans

  • Luis Villar

    Democrats and Republicans are bought and paid for by the 1%. Alan Greenspan, Bobby Rubin, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke deregulated the banks during the Clinton era. The illusion of prosperity under Clinton was the result of the Hedge fund bubble, and the dot com bubble. Millionaires surfaced every day filling the tax coffers in a windfall. But the millionaires were an illusion which collapsed in Clinton’s last year. Long Term Capital Management, the worlds largest hedge fund collapsed in 1998 almost destabilizing the major banks in a domino effect. Brooksley Born at the CFTC warned collapse of the Banks was imminent due to fraud and lack of regulation. Rubin, Summers, and Greenspan responded by destroying her credibility and career and passing legislation hidden in an agricultural bill that EFFECTIVELY INSULATED OTC DERIVATIVES FROM CFTC,SEC, AND STATE OVERSIGHT. Clinton signed repeal of Glass-Steagall Nov 12, 1999.
    Democrats and Republicans were co-conspirators in deregulation of the banks. Between 1981 and 2008, the richest 10% got 90%of the new growth in America. It has been worse under the current regime.

    Since 2008, the top 5% got 80% of all new growth and the top 1% got half of that! Don’t blame Republicans for the destruction of the middle class. Democrats have been just as bad, if not worse. Sorry

  • quills

    I agree that some democrats, if you can really call Greenspan, Rubin, Summers, Geithner and Bernanke democrats, are just as guilty but even they (except Bernanke) admitted later that they were wrong. You are right that both parties are guilty and both are held hostage by the 1% through the policies and tax system that has evolved the last 40 years or so. Still, most of these policies are straight from the conservative agenda and playbook and they still support these bad policies 10 to 1 over democrats. These policies along with bad trade agreements (both sides guilty here for sure), a lack of campaign finance reform, citizens united and refusal to do real tax reform (all GOP agendas) have created a situation whereby even moral legislators from both sides of the isle, are bought and paid for and therefor cannot even bring these realities to the floor for discussions. Still, it is very obvious who the GOP represents and helps at every turn…..and it’s not the middle class. While the dem’s haven’t done much better, they at least attempt to represent the middle class, despite their hands being tied. At least (some of them) they can see and admit the facts and try to solve problems based on the facts. The GOP, on the other hand, believes that “government is the problem”, not the solution and they keep running for office and getting elected in order to prove it by making sure nothing gets done right. They want government to fail, the want Obama to fail, they want dem’s to fail and ultimately that means they want America to fail. They want failure and gridlock to get support for their ultimate goal…..”to privatize America”. To put the final nail in the coffin of democracy and replace it with “Plutocracy”. I don’t think government can solve most problems but I want people in there that at least want to make government work better and smarter for everyone. Also I don’t have any guardian angels to watch over me and the country at large so as bad as government may be, at least they attempt and sometimes succeed at protecting us from things the average person can’t. Things like pollution, workplace safety, minimum wage protection and yes, wall street and corporations stealing the middle class blind. If we had no government doing these things, even though they are not good at it, we would be like China. So, since I have only two parties to choose from, I will choose the party that at least believes government can do something good for people rather than the party that thinks that government is the problem and wants to replace it with a few billionaires. Why anyone armed with the facts would vote against their on best interest, by voting for anyone in a party that doesn’t want government to work for them is beyond me. I guess they are not armed with the facts, they are likely armed by FOX news…..”fair and balanced news” …….right! Don’t get me wrong; I think almost all politicians are bums looking out for themselves but I’ll take the bums that want to get something done, not the ones that want to obstruct and insure failure.

  • Whatmeworry

    The 1% elite are in both the Illuminati and the gop pockets. Heard this on Alex Jones

  • dpaano

    Yeah, and we can look at the ridiculous subsidies paid out to farmers, oil companies, etc. Who pays for those…..we do! What do we get for that money, nothing!!!