With some nudging from their campaign contributors, lawmakers in some states are eager, let us say positively salivating, at the prospect of making things worse.
David A. Lieb at the Associated Press reports:
Economic statistics show that incomes for the top 1 percent of U.S. households soared 31 percent from 2009 through 2012, after adjusting for inflation, yet inched up an average of 0.4 percent for those making less. Many economists are sounding alarms that the income gap, greater now than at any time since the Depression, is hurting the economy by limiting growth in consumer spending.The narrative that Occupy cemented in the public mind and that Piketty and others have provided the supporting data for need to be translated into action. Reversing this pernicious inequality trend requires far more than one policy change, more than fiddling around the margins of the tax code, more than one election cycle, more than mere populist-sounding rhetoric about the predatory nature of a few billionaires. The situation goes far deeper than that.
Yet those concerns aren't resonating in some states. Last year, at least 10 states passed income tax cuts targeted at businesses or those in the top individual brackets. Several more already have cut taxes this year, including Democratic-led New York and Republican-led Oklahoma. Yet over the past three years, nearly one-fifth of the states have pared back unemployment benefits, and more cutbacks are under consideration. [...]
"What's happening at the state level is increasingly important, and, to many eyes, it appears to be moving things in one direction—towards greater inequality," said Matthew Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington-based tax research group.
As the midterm election season moves forward, we citizens should be doing all we can—at the state and federal levels—to get incumbents who claim to represent us and candidates who say they would like to represent us to tell us what they plan to do regarding the worst inequality in 80+ years. Not just offhanded comments scattered in a speech here or there, but incessantly, relentlessly. Not just red-meat throwaway lines but unambiguous promises about what they will do in office to push for a transformation of an economic system that is serving the one percenters and failing the rest of us.