On Tax Day, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities compiled their top 10 charts related to federal taxes. Two really stand out.
That has big implications for current policy discussions. First and foremost, yes, the rich should be paying more in taxes. Second, the last thing policy-makers should be doing is hitting the middle class harder, either by raising their taxes (which the chained CPI would do when applied to tax brackets) or cutting their benefits after they retire (which the chained CPI would do).
Income inequality is real, and it's been real for the past four decades. Stagnant income (in real terms, falling income) for the middle class has made saving and building for a secure retirement that much more difficult. Pundits and politicians have long complained that we're a nation of spenders instead of savers, as if the lack of retirement savings among us was a character flaw instead of a simple reality. For those who could save, the places where they put their money have proven to be shaky, at best, whether the stock market or real estate.
That, along with the still shitty economy and high unemployment means that the near-term picture for the next generation of retirees is downright grim. Now is not the time to be talking about cutting critical earned benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare. It's time to be talking about shoring them up with smart—and fair—policies like getting rid of the payroll tax cap. It's time to be talking about expanding Social Security and Medicare instead of cutting them.