by Jeremy Leaming
In late October, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Republican presidential hopeful, unveiled tax policy that despite the already historically low tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest would advance even more tax benefits for that tiny, but politically powerful, group. As reported by TPM’s Brain Beutler, Newt Gingrich’s tax policy, reviewed by the Tax Policy Center, continues the Republican Party presidential candidates’ formula of advancing tax policy geared to coddling the super wealthy.
As Beutler writes, “And like all the plans that came before it, Gingrich’s constitutes a massive tax cut for the rich. Indeed, no matter how you stack the numbers, Gingrich wants a tax system that permanently holds tax rates on the highest earners lower than the tax rates on the middle class."
With study after study showing the decline of the nation’s middle class and sharp increase in poverty, the GOP presidential candidates are either oblivious to the research or are collectively shrugging their shoulders. It was Fox’s Britt Hume who said earlier this year of growing economic inequality, “who cares?”
The Tax Policy Center, Beutler notes in conclusion, would drastically “reduce federal revenues.” Groups, such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, have advocated this type of policy for years – that is starve the federal government of revenues, so policies intended to help the less fortunate dwindle. The group’s mission, as noted on its website, is directed at shrinking what it sees as an unwieldy federal government. “The government’s power,” the group’s mission statement reads, “to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized.”
The Republican Party, as Tim Dickinson explores in this piece for Rolling Stone, has evolved to become a movement beholden to the nation’s wealthiest.
Dickinson writes, “Today’s Republican Party may revere Reagan as the patron saint of low taxation. But the party of Reagan – which understood that higher taxes on the rich are sometime required to cure ruinous deficits – is dead and gone. Instead, the modern GOP has undergone a radical transformation, reorganizing itself around a grotesque proposition: that the wealthy should grow wealthier still, whatever the consequences for the rest of us.”
Earlier this month in Osawatomie, Kan., President Obama echoed some of the concerns that the Occupy Wall Street protestors have brought, in dramatic fashion, to the fore in recent months, when he decried economic policies that have damaged the middle class while benefiting a tiny few.
“Look at the statistics,” the president said. “In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year. I’m not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. I’m saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of 1 percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent.”
In a Dec. 11 column for the Chicago Tribune, Geoffrey R. Stone, a distinguished law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and an ACS Board member, called Obama’s speech “groundbreaking,” for likely speaking to whom he dubbed “The Concerned Majority.”
And it is beyond time that someone speaks for this group. Because the Supreme Court, Stone writes, with its recent dismantling of corporate campaign finance regulations, has helped produce “a small cohort of rich and powerful individuals and corporations” that shape “the American political system on a broad range of critical issues.”
We now have an extraordinary maldistribution of wealth in the United States. It exceeds that of almost every other advanced nation in the world. The richest 1 percent of Americans today control 37 percent of our nation’s wealth. This is a degree of concentrated power and privilege not seen in the United States since before the Great Depression.
As Stone concluded in his piece, the president and others are reminding us all “that the very idea of America is about shared responsibility rather than rampant self-interest ….” But a study of the Republican presidential candidates’ economic policies, as Beutler and others have noted, reaveals they are not terribly conerned with that ideal.
[image via Gage Skidmore]