So Senator Conrad, you think it's time to get serious about deficits and with one of your last votes in Congress you propose to extend all the 2001 tax cuts (the single largest contributor to our deficits over the last decade), including tax cuts on income over $250,000.
I am all for shared sacrifice but not when hedge fund managers will continue to pay taxes at a 15% rate on $100 million incomes. Not when bailed-out large banks that would still be insolvent without changes in FASB Accounting practices will pay $144 billion of bonuses which will be taxed at lower rates than prevailed during the Reagan Administration and the 1990s boom.
Since I began work in the 1970s, the biggest (and most unexpected) economic failure in this country (and we've had more than a few) has been the extreme increase in the concentration of wealth and income at the top.
When I graduated from college, the top one percent took home about 8% of national income and one working adult could support a family. Now, the top 1% takes home 23% of national income (significantly more than the federal government takes-in in revenue each year).
The sad thing is that we have had substantial economic growth since I was in my early 20s (not as spectacular as earlier periods, but national income has significantly more than doubled in real terms). Yet, as Nick Kristof pointed out in his NY Times column on Sunday, 80% of that growth in national income has gone to the top 1% of our population, which means the remaining 99% shared in only 20% of that growth, and many working Americans shared in none of that gain (and, in fact,lost ground).
What kind of country is this becoming? Is this the America you went into politics to create?
If it isn't, Senator Conrad, please reconsider your position on continuing the upper income tax cuts, speak up with strength and conviction and make your last weeks in the Senate ones you can be proud of.
I know it's unlikely that this email will be read by anyone in your office except (at best) some poor junior staffer or intern unluckily stuck with this task. (I confess to claiming a North Dakota address to increase the likelihood this gets read). I ask the reader of this email to forgive me for that, and I sincerely hope that the message at least informs and influences you as you move forward in life and your responsibility for the fate of this country increases.