Originally Published: October 15, 2011 9:58 p.m.
We have heard a lot from Republicans about class warfare against the wealthy, a sentiment editorialized by Courier staff. Let's take a closer look.
From 1945 through 1980, 5 percent of the United States population controlled 20 percent of wealth, and the poorest 20 percent controlled 5 percent of wealth. Now, the most conservative of conflicting figures say the top 1 percent control 20 percent of United States wealth. Long-term capital gains taxes have fallen from 35 to 15 percent, and personal income taxes for the richest Americans have fallen from 70 percent (1980) to 35 percent. For fiscal year 2010, this wealthiest class availed themselves of so many tax loopholes that their effective tax rate was 17.4 percent.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 14 million Americans were lifted out of poverty by Social Security in 2010. Imagine hardships seniors would have faced had President Bush succeeded in privatizing Social Security, as he attempted to do just before the recession hit. Also, if your earnings are $106,800 or less, you pay Social Security taxes on 100 percent of your income. The poor, beleaguered rich, supposed victims of class warfare, pay no Social Security taxes on income in excess of $106,800, while businesses' profit-to-wage ratio is at its highest in 90 years. For example, Bank of America's CEO was paid $10 million while laying off 30,000 workers. Now they want to charge you $5 per month to use your debit card to make purchases.
How can we be experiencing class warfare against the rich when income disparity between the wealthy and the average wage earner is steadily increasing?
With taxes for the wealthiest among us at their lowest since the 1920s, who is really losing financially?