The top 1 percent of American wage-earners now own more of the country’s wealth than ever before. Middle-class Americans and lower-class workers have seen their average wages either decline or stay put. Meanwhile, megacorporation CEOs are benefiting more than they ever have.
In 2007, the top 1 percent of Americans earned 23.5 percent of the nation’s pre-tax income.
Frank Rich of The New York Times recently wrote, “America’s ever-widening income inequality was not an inevitable by-product of the modern megacorporation, or of globalization, or of the advent of the new tech-driven economy or of a growing education gap…Inequality is instead the result of specific policies, including tax policies, championed by Washington Democrats and Republicans alike as they conducted a bidding war for high-rolling donors in election after election.”
Rich brings up an evident point in American politics. The No. 1 goal of politicians is to get re-elected. As a result, they seek the favor of the large political donors who are often CEOs of corporations and interest groups. Therefore, politicians do not take the necessary steps to cap the runaway salaries that corporation owners are taking for themselves.
The tax debate on Capitol Hill will focus prominently on discussion of whether or not the salaries of these corporate executives continue to grow. The GOP wants to extend the Bush tax cuts to all Americans. Under the Bush tax cuts, the wealthiest Americans paid a lower tax percentage than any other Americans, according the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
The Republicans say that not extending the tax breaks to the rich would hurt the small businesses of America. In fact, the Tax Policy Center reports that only 2 percent of Americans reporting small-business income would see their taxes raised if the cuts were not extended to the wealthiest Americans.
Additionally, extending the tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans would cost the U.S. government $700 billion, and for Republicans vowing to cut spending, that is remarkably hypocritical.
Another argument is that by keeping taxes low for the rich, they will work to create new jobs. That is the same old tired argument that George W. Bush used when he first instituted the tax cuts.
The illusion that Republicans have created around these tax cuts was a part of the barrage of misinformation that they used to win seats this November.
Americans cannot afford to extend the tax cuts to the superrich, and they cannot afford to let these executives and multimillionaires continue making off with the country’s wealth. It would cost the federal government too much money to give a tax break to these Americans that will never be concerned with the money in the first place.
Politicians of both parties must realize that in order to boost middle-class and lower-class wages, they must take their hands out of the pockets of real donors and serve the common man that both parties claim to be serving.
Alex Apple is a freshman political science and journalism double major from Nashville, Tenn.