Class War

Dec 06, 2017

To the Editor:

In the U.S., we have a problem. Over the past decade, most of our families have been spinning their wheels. The median household income, adjusted for inflation, has grown by just 1.5 percent, $839, since the beginning of the Great Recession. Over the same period, the total annual economic output of the U.S. has grown 10 times that rate. The gains are even more impressive on the stock market, which has climbed about 40 percent, also adjusted for inflation.

The experience of the past decade shows very clearly that trying to satisfy the economic strains on the middle and working classes by pumping up Wall Street only helps people who already own a lot of financial capital and don’t need help. Half of all gains from the sale of stocks and bonds go to households that make over $1 million a year. Less than one-fourth of American households own more than $25,000 in stock. And most don’t own any stock, and cannot even save toward their retirement. The 400 wealthiest households take about three-fourths of their very substantial incomes from financial investments.

So the tax reform bill passed by the House Republications last week shouldn’t really be understood as economic policymaking. It’s not about stimulating growth or investment, or improving incentives. It’s class war. Republicans are assisting the efforts of a very small, very rich faction to take an ever-growing share of the nation’s wealth from the rest of us.

A $1.5 trillion corporate tax cut would go straight to the people who own stock in corporations. Another $696 billion would go toward repealing the alternative minimum tax, a provision that is supposed to prevent the super-rich from paying no taxes at all. Another $596 billion tax cut would assist so-called “pass through” entities: hedge funds, investment vehicles, law firms and other things rich people use. Best of all is the repeal of the estate tax, which would enable millionaire and billionaire families to pass their fortunes on from generation to generation, without ever having to pay taxes on financial assets. It’s a multi-generational windfall for the very rich.

The most outrageous revenue-raiser doesn’t actually stick it to the poor or middle class. The official tax rate on domestic profits for the biggest corporations is currently 35 percent. The GOP bill would slash that down to an ultra-low 20 percent.

The political and policy implications of the bill are far worse than the numbers above.

What the Republican class cannot tolerate is democratic accountability. They don’t want to see schools and hospitals going up just because people voted to build them. They want the priorities of American society to be organized according to the whims of our financial princelings, not the political will expressed by people living in a democracy.

The 1 percent act as if we do not have a political right to fair treatment and a decent standard of living. We should feel gratitude to the benevolence of our overlords.

Instead of gratitude we should feel anger that rises to resistance to the outrageous theft of our rights and our tax money.

Carole Marks


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