One measure of how big income inequality in the United States is is that pretty much any angle you choose to look at it from reveals some startling little nugget of information, the sort of example of a society run by and for the 1 percent that should put millions of people in the streets in protest. Yet we have so many such examples they become normal, almost boring.
David Cay Johnston unearths a couple such should-cause-outrage details in a look at the 2009 tax returns of the 400 highest-income families. Consider this: six families making around $200 million each in 2009 paid no federal income taxes, while:
[A]nother 110 families paid 15 percent or less in federal income taxes. That’s the same federal tax rate as a single worker who made $61,500 in 2009.Less than 21 percent of the 400 highest earners paid the minimum 30 percent tax rate that they would pay under the Buffett rule. This is not just income inequality, it's government-supported income inequality. For the Republican members of Congress blocking the Buffett rule, of course, it's a win-win, with the rich getting richer and the government getting poorer and weaker.
Overall, the top 400 paid an average income tax rate of 19.9 percent, the same rate paid by a single worker who made $110,000 in 2009. The top 400 earned five times that much every day.