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View Diary: Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law (244 comments)

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  •  Some concepts seeping into common consciousness (5+ / 0-)

    My local paper, The Dallas Morning News, has been doing some coverage of these kinds of issues.  Today was a particularly rich haul.

    A local columnist, highly admired and respected, has been talking about taxes. Today's offering:

    Last Sunday, I summoned my courage and said more tax revenue ought to be part of solving our federal budget crisis.

     This is a local issue because our own U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling  is co-chair of the bipartisan “super committee” given the task of cutting the deficit. And while the anti-tax crowd clamors the loudest these days, I think the Dallas Republican needs to know that not everyone agrees.

    Major cuts in spending are essential, too. Bring them on, I said. But some moderate increase in revenue ought to also be part of any balanced, common-sense plan.

    It’s true that tax collection is extremely lopsided these days. Those in the top 25 percent of income pay about 86 percent of income taxes. But wealth is also extremely lopsided. Our richest 20 percent own 85 percent of all wealth.

    The bottom 40 percent have just 0.3 percent of total wealth. So we obviously can’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Those of us blessed with more have to pay more.

    But I do believe it’s unhealthy that 47 percent of U.S. households pay no income tax. They pay lots of other taxes — sales, gasoline, property, Social Security — but everyone with income needs to participate in income taxes, even if it’s just $50. As Americans, we pull the load together.

    Then the cover story on the Ed/OpEd section was:
    All work, no pay and who's getting rich from it?

    Sure, but these are tough times — employers struggling to survive the recession are just tightening their belts, right? That’s true for some. But in the big picture, the data show a more insidious pattern. After a sharp dip in 2008 and 2009, U.S. economic output recovered nicely to near pre-recession levels — we did better than most of our fellow G-7 economies. But not so American workers: Far more people here lost their jobs, and fewer were hired back once the recovery began, than anywhere else.
    For 90 percent of American workers, incomes have stagnated or fallen for the past three decades, while they’ve ballooned at the top and exploded at the very tippy-top: By 2008, the wealthiest 0.1 percent were making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). And just to further fuel your outrage, that 22 percent increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.

    In other words, all that extra work you’ve taken on — the late nights, the skipped lunch hours, the missed soccer games — paid off. For them.

    The print piece had a nice chart showing the trends for productivity (increasing) and wages (stagnating).

    And as a bonus we had Can any program help the long-term unemployed? Which ended (I think we could have done without that last sentence)

    A lack of appropriately skilled workers “is not a major explanation for why unemployment is 9 percent right now. If you want to move the needle, you need to create demand. This doesn’t do that.” In that sense, the infrastructure and tax-cut provisions in the proposal might have a bigger effect on long-term joblessness than any program targeting the long-term jobless.

     What would really help? Eisenbrey suggests bringing back the TANF Emergency Fund. Reich suggests a second stimulus, as big as the first one. Rothstein says the Federal Reserve should announce a 4 percent inflation target and Congress should authorize massive infrastructure investment. At worst, he quips, “Hire a worker to dig a hole, another to put a $100 bill in the bottom of the hole, and then a third worker to put dirt on it.”

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