The richest 1 percent get richer

We are many, they are few.

If there was any doubt in the message being sounded from the streets these days -- that the richest 1 percent has been taking a disproportionate and growing share of the nation’s wealth -- a long-awaited new study issued yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office makes it crystal clear.

Not only has their share of the nation’s income doubled in the last 30 years, but the report found that concentration was accelerated by a tax structure that has become steadily less progressive, allowing the very rich to keep more of the wealth that the rest of the country so desperately needs.

And the reason the tax code has become far less redistributive is because wealthy special interests have been rewriting it in their favor, and being allowed to do so by politicians in both major parties whose elections and post-service employment the wealthy sponsor.

These same politicians and the mainstream media have been trying to cast the Occupy movement as dirty, disorganized, and incoherent, but it central message -- which is now being chanted in cities across the country -- couldn’t be more clear and compelling.

“We are the 99 percent!” they’re shouting, a simple truth that highlights the biggest problem that our country is facing: an unfair and unsustainable consolidation of wealth, the central problem that spawns the myriad other problems we face, from underfunded schools and public infrastructure to corruption in our financial and political systems to the economic hardships that most of us face.

Politicians like Mayor Ed Lee, the clear choice of the 1 percent in this mayor’s race, can talk all he wants about “jobs” and the imperative of enforcing minor municipal codes against OccupySF, which is expecting its third raid by the police as soon as tonight. But those are meaningless abstractions compared to the simple truth that is being so clearly articulated by young people in streets.

We’re not the problem, they are. We are many, they are few. We know the truth and we aren’t giving up. Power to the people!


probably provide even more than 1% of all new jobs created.

Envy isn't a viable political strategy. And declaring war on the two million most successful people in America is little more than a desire to see everyone poor.

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 6:43 am

Only 40%? Seems like they're getting off cheap, when they have 80% of all the money.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

The super-rich and corporations in this country do not pay anywhere near 40% in taxes.

Because of loopholes and exemptions for things like capital gains, they generally pay 15% or less, and many pay absolutely no taxes whatsoever.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

The poor and middle class, because of loopholes and exemptions for things like mortgage interest and children, generally pay no income taxes after deductions.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

Dude, what planet do you live on. Your statement is completely ridiculous. Why don't you try going around knocking on doors of the middle class and the poor to tell them the happy news that they supposedly pay no taxes; and see what kind of response you get...

Posted by Aragorn on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

Tell those who pay no income taxe that they pay no income tax and they'll complain that they do. Poor OR rich.

Thanks to EIC and deductions most poor and middle class people don't pay any income tax. They pay payroll taxes and they pay state income and sales tax, as well as assorted taxes like the gas tax, but they generally don't pay income tax.

That is a fact. I'm not saying whether it's good or bad but it's indisputable that it's a fact.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

Well Guest, let's take a look at the -actual- facts instead of your bullshit, (and your deceptive focus solely on income taxes). Let's see what people actually pay in taxes (including the poor) from a relatively conservative site which even understates the case a bit.

"Many Millionaires Do Enjoy Lower Tax Rates
Fact Checking the Fact Checkers at AP

By Seth Hanlon | September 20, 2011

The Associated Press today published a strange “fact check” of the “Buffett rule,” the principle articulated yesterday by President Barack Obama that no household making more than $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle-class families pay. The AP’s fact check faults President Obama for “mak[ing] it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries,” and states that “[t]he data tell a different story.”

In fact, tons of data—including data cited in the AP article itself—confirm the compelling need for a Buffett rule because large numbers of super-rich individuals are indeed paying lower taxes than middle-class families. Consider:

1,470 households reported income of more than $1 million in 2009 but paid zero federal income tax on it.

The average federal income tax rate of the richest 400 people in the country in 2008 was 18.11 percent. In 2007 it was 16.62 percent. That is only a little more than just the payroll tax on wages—normally 15.3 percent on a worker’s first $106,800 in wages, counting both the share that workers pay directly and the share their employers pay, which comes out of their wages—let alone the federal income tax on those wages. The tax rates paid by the “Fortunate 400” have plummeted since the mid-1990s, when their average effective rates were about 30 percent.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the richest 0.01 percent (those with incomes of $8.6 million and above) paid a combined 17.5 percent in individual income and payroll taxes in 2005, the last year for which such data are available. The group of households with incomes ranging from $45,200–$92,400 paid only a little less on average, at 15.7 percent. The group of households with incomes ranging from $30,500–$45,200 paid 12.5 percent. Of course, there are wide variations within those income ranges, meaning that many middle-class families paid much more than the 17.5 percent average paid by the very rich, while many in the top 0.01 percent paid less than that.

Due to the so-called carried interest loophole, managers of hedge funds and private equity funds pay 15 percent capital gains rates, and no payroll taxes, on their profits from managing other people’s money. That’s less than what middle-class families pay just in payroll taxes on their wages—let alone what they pay in income taxes. An important part of President Obama’s deficit reduction plan unveiled yesterday is closing the carried interest loophole.

The upshot: AP’s “fact check” misses the point of the Buffett rule. The point is not to ensure that rich people on average pay higher taxes than middle-class people on average. Of course they do, and of course they should! The point is to ensure that all households with incomes above $1 million pay at least what middle-class families are paying.

How many millionaires would be subject to the Buffett rule? An exact estimate isn’t publicly available. But judging by the complaining from certain quarters, it might be a lot.

Seth Hanlon is Director of Fiscal Reform at the Doing What Works project at the Center for American Progress."

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 28, 2011 @ 12:32 am