Who Rules America? A Breakdown Of Wealth In The U.S. House And Senate

Popular Resistance, Revolution, Rebellion, Capitalism

By Jerry Robinson for Follow The Money – And while many politicians enter public office with large bank accounts, few realize how many of our nation’s leaders leverage their political positions to dramatically increase their wealth. Now, as a student of Austrian economics and as a firm believer in the free markets, I am not opposed at all to leveraging one’s talents and abilities to increase wealth. However, when public office is specifically used for private gain, we have a problem. After all, politicians are sent to Washington with a mandate to promote the will of the people. However, America’s politicians often end up serving the wishes of their corporate masters, as well as other special interest groups. Here’s a few hard facts on the matter…

Trump Puts Forward Tax Plan For Ultra Rich & Big Business

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left) and National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn introduced the Trump administration's tax plan on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Decrying Trump’s proposal as “a very big step in precisely the wrong direction,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair wrote of the pass-through tax cut that “it will help private equity managers and people like President Trump: wealthy people who will now be able to reconfigure their taxes by reclassifying themselves as independent contractors. This isn’t theory, this is exactly what happened in Kansas.” In that state, Blair elaborated in a separate post on Wednesday, establishing a pass-through loophole led to “even more lost tax revenue.” Another aspect of Trump’s plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, which was established to ensure that the super-rich are not able to use loopholes to escape their tax liability altogether. Trump’s 2005 tax return showed that for that year, “he paid 25 percent of $153 million in taxable income instead of the less than 4 percent that he would have paid without” the AMT, as the New York Times reported when the return was released last month. Cohn also announced that the administration’s proposal would repeal the so-called “estate tax” on holdings transferred from deceased people to their heirs.

Why Society’s Biggest Freeloaders Are At The Top

Flickr/ Alan Cleaver

By Rutger Bregman for Evonomics – This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world. Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top. So entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

Rich Americans Live Up To 15 Years Longer Than Poor Peers, Studies Find

Wealthy Americans can expect to live 15 years longer than poor peers, studies in the Lancet find. Photograph: Ariel Skelley

By Jessica Glenza for The Guardian – Health insurance system – the most expensive in the world – is worsening situation, researchers find, arguing healthcare should be treated as human right. You can’t buy time – except, it seems, in America. Increasing inequality means wealthy Americans can now expect to live up to 15 years longer than their poor counterparts, reports in the British medical journal the Lancet have found. Researchers said these disparities appear to be worsened by the American health system itself, which relies on for-profit insurance companies, and is the most expensive in the world. Their conclusion? Treat healthcare as a human right.

Underwater Nation

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By Chuck Collins for Other Words – Are you or a loved one having trouble staying afloat? You’re truly not alone. While the media reports low unemployment and a rising stock market, the reality is that almost 20 percent of the country lives in “Underwater Nation,” with zero or even negative net worth. And more still have almost no cash reverses to get them through hard times. This is a source of enormous stress for many low and middle-income families. Savings and wealth are vital life preservers for people faced with job loss, illness, divorce, or even car trouble. Yet an estimated 15 to 20 percent of families have no savings at all, or owe more than they own.

We Need To Tax The Rich But Instead We’ll Do The Opposite

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By Hamilton Nolan for The Concourse – Economic inequality in America has been rising steadily since the Reagan era. Why? A new research paper identifies what it say is the main culprit: the fact that we’ve stopped taxing the rich. There are, of course, many contributing factors to the post-Reagan Age of Inequality that has finally grown so dire that it is warping our electoral politics past recognition: the decline in union bargaining power, the influence of money on politics, the deregulation of the financial industries, fortunes spawned by new technologies, and more. But a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper, by economists from Yale and from Stockholm University, says that the most important factor of all has been the decline of progressive income taxes.

Stark Inequality: Oxfam Says 8 Men As Rich As Half The World

AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo

By Pan Pylas for Associated Press – DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday. Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, anti-poverty organization Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem. If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump…

Newsletter: Trump Comes Into Focus; So Do Our Tasks

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. The Trump presidency is coming into focus. Every appointment shows that his populist campaign rhetoric was disguising a government for the ultra-wealthy and the military. He has already appointed the wealthiest cabinet ever with a net worth of $12 to $35 billion, and he is putting generals in what are usually civilian positions. A look at his current appointments show us what we can expect the Trump administration to pursue for policies. Much of the work that has been done for social and economic justice will be threatened. This means that we will need to escalate our efforts and be more assertive. The potential for people working together in solidarity will grow and the long-term impact of the Trump era could be a mass movement that will change the political culture in the United States.

Mansions And Slums: The Inequality Of Living Space

by Abhisek Sarda | CC BY 2.0

By Tamara Pearson for Counter Punch – Australians have the biggest homes in the world. New free-standing homes are an average 245.3 sqm – three times bigger than UK homes, and 22 times bigger than the average Hong Kong home. For Australia, this space privilege shows up the all pervasive myth that the country has no room for refugees. But for the world, there’s a deeper story of a global inequality of space – a story that goes well beyond mere population density differences.

Wealth Inequality Worses: Top 10% Owns Three-Quarters Of Wealth

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By Staff of CBO – In 2013, aggregate family wealth in the United States was $67 trillion (or about four times the nation’s gross domestic product) and the median family (the one at the midpoint of the wealth distribution) held approximately $81,000, CBO estimates. For this analysis, CBO calculated that measure of wealth as a family’s assets minus its debt. CBO measured wealth as marketable wealth, which consists of assets that are easily tradable and that have value even after the death of their owner.

America’s Racial Wealth Divide Is Nothing Short Of Shocking

“Suffocating Black Wealth,” an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

By Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Chuck Collins for Other Worlds – Most media coverage of racial injustice has understandably focused on our country’s unfair policing and criminal justice system. But to fully understand the current reality of racial inequality in America, we also need to take an honest look at our nation’s shocking wealth disparities. Wealth — the total assets a family owns after the bills are paid — is the safety net we all need to help us get through the tough times and invest in our futures. And its polarization along racial lines is striking.

Report: Ever-Growing Gap

Every time an organization broadcasts their commitment to deep social change, while instead prioritizing one-dimensional results for their wealthy funders, the task of dismantling multilayered systems of destruction is lost in translation. (Photo: JT)

By Staff of Inequality – Racial and economic inequality are the most pressing social issues of our time. In the last decade, we have seen the catastrophic economic impact of the Great Recession and an ensuing recovery that has bypassed millions of Americans, especially households of color. This period of economic turmoil has been punctuated by civil unrest throughout the country in the wake of a series of high-profile African-American deaths at the hands of police.

A Wealth Tax Can Make The Country Richer

DON'T BLOW THE INHERITANCE.
PHOTOGRAPHER: JOHN SCIULLI/GETTY IMAGES

By Noah Smith for Bloomberg View – Standard economic theory says that taxation reduces productivity. If you tax income, you reduce the incentive to work. If you tax capital gains, you reduce the incentive to invest, and so on. When you discourage useful economic activity, the economy becomes less efficient. But what if it were possible to impose taxes in a way that alsoincreased productivity? That’s the promise of a clever new theory by economists Daphne Chen, Fatih Guvenen, Gueorgui Kambourov and Burhanettin Kuruscu.

America’s Huge Racial Wealth Gap Is No Accident

Ellie / Flickr

By Josh Hoxie for Other Worlds – Party platforms are dense and often morosely boring documents filled with wonkish policy proposals and partisan jeers at the other side. At over 40 pages, this year’s Democratic Party platform lives up to its predecessors in length and ennui. However, it also includes a section not yet seen in platforms from either side: an acknowledgement of the racial wealth gap.

Redistribution Of Health Care From The Poor To The Wealthy

(Image: Health care costs via Shutterstock)

By Samuel L. Dickman et al for PNHP – US medical spending growth slowed between 2004 and 2013. At the same time, many Americans faced rising copayments and deductibles, which may have particularly affected lower-income people. To explore whether the health spending slowdown affected all income groups equally, we divided the population into income quintiles. We then assessed trends in health expenditures by and on behalf of people in each quintile using twenty-two national surveys carried out between 1963 and 2012.