For anybody who still shares Romney's contempt for people at the bottom who do not pay income tax (they pay plenty of other taxes), Need to Know on PBS Friday night explained the practical results of our tax code—its unequal treatment of rich, middle class, and poor.
You can learn about deductions, about the Earned Income Credit, about the practical effects for people representing various income levels. I love the 1 percenter, who says,
I think it’s perfectly reasonable that the wealthy, who, I believe, in the end benefit the most from having a society that works for everybody, should be contributing more. . . .I absolutely think I should pay more in taxes.
Why should we have these differential rates between earnings from income and earnings from capital? It’s the hardworking individual who goes out to get money for their labor that we really ought to be rewarding. Isn’t that the person that we really feel is contributing the most to society? . . .
Why is it that we think what the venture capitalist does is more important than what the teacher does?
Conservatives like to crow that the top one percent pay almost 40 percent of all federal income tax and the top ten percent pay around 70 percent. So what? They should pay taxes commensurate with their share of the country's wealth. On average the 1 percenters pay an income tax of only 15%. Their share of the total federal income tax is big because their share of the country’s income is so monstrous.
As we learn HERE, the top 1 % have 42.1% of our country's financial wealth but they control 81% to 94% of the wealth.
From the Need to Know transcript:We can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America. . . .And the top 1% of income earners actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them.Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution . . . [net worth] is as concentrated as it is.
This guy makes eight times the amount that you make, and he’s paying a lower effective tax rate than you. What do you think about that?SETH HAHN: It really sort of outrageous that our elected leaders allow it to continue to happen. The people who are reaping all of the benefits of the wealth that we are sort of collectively creating are those who are paying, often, the least in taxes.
Also on Friday night, Paul Krugman explained why the current obsession with cutting spending produces precisely the wrong effect—more misery for everyone, including the future generations that conservatives fancy themselves to be defending. Austerity does not work. Witness Europe and Japan. Krugman says,
After the interview, Bill Moyers reported that the deal reached at the New Year included more gifts to millionaires. Damn. With their powerful finance lobby, Wall Street moguls wheedle out of government favors for themselves while preaching austerity for the rest of us. Already before the latest deal, Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs loomed nauseatingly, hypocritically. The Huffington Post commented:. . . all the evidence of history says . . . in a situation like this [if] the private sector won’t spend, government can step in and provide the spending that we need in order to keep this economy afloat.
While nobly calling for shared sacrifice, . . . [Blankfein says] the only way to address our grave fiscal crisis is to slash corporate tax rates and encourage poors and olds to get over their irrational aversion to dumpster-diving.
Outrage is appropriate. Until we pressure for justice, it will elude us.