By Alan Grayson
As I mentioned on MSNBC Wednesday night, it’s been 11 years since the Bush tax breaks for the rich were enacted. President George W. Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act on June 7, 2001.
Bush claimed (as right-wingers always do) that tax breaks for the rich would create jobs in the private sector. Well, they haven’t. There were 110 million private sector jobs in America in 2001. There are 110 million private sector jobs in America today. Despite a population increase of more than 25 million, there are no more private sector jobs today than when the Bush tax breaks for the rich became law.
In the past 11 years, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased from 33 million to 44 million. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has risen from 18 million to 46 million. “Trickle-down” has not even been a trickle.
But what could we expect? We didn’t give tax breaks to the poor; we gave tax breaks to the rich. And for the rich, the past 11 years has been one long party. According to the Paris School of Economics, the top 1% in America saw their share of national income increase by more than 13% from 2001 to 2010. The top 0.1% saw their share of income increase by 20%. The top 0.01% saw their share of income explode by more than 37%, from 2.4% of all of the income in America to 3.3%.
The Bush tax breaks for the rich have yielded the most unequal distribution of wealth in American history, more unequal even than that of 1929, just before the Great Depression.
The lurch toward inequality started decades ago; the Bush tax breaks for the rich only accelerated it. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, since 1979, income for the top 1% has increased by $700,000 a year, while income for the bottom 90% has declined by $900 a year. Between 1992 and 2007, income for the richest 400 Americans increased by 392%, as their taxes dropped by 37%.
You see where this is going. The end-game of the Bush tax breaks for the rich is the end of the middle class in America. No jobs, no healthcare, no pensions, no home equity, no higher education. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
The Bush tax breaks are due to expire in a few months. We are at a fork in the road.
No more tax breaks for the rich. No. No. No. No.
Alan Grayson is a Democrat who represented Florida’s 8th Congressional District in the House of Representatives in 2009 and 2010. He is a former president of the telecommunications company IDT.
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