by Jeremy Leaming
Tea Party activists and some in Congress remain dead-set against increasing taxes on the wealthiest, loudly proclaiming that the nation must make draconian spending cuts to lower the national debt. Indeed, as the debt-ceiling debacle revealed, some House lawmakers appear forever committed to slashing government programs. The Right’s mantra of no new taxes continues to thrive and galvanize, even as the economic inequality gap continues its devastation.
The president and other Democratic leaders are also apparently swayed by the obstinate stance against increased revenue, in light of the agreement reached on raising the debt ceiling, which includes plans for even more spending cuts, during a time when the effects of the Great Recession continue to be felt coast to coast.
And yet, as numerous economists have pointed out time and again, there is an economic inequality gap that is exponentially growing. Columbia University Business School Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote earlier this spring for Vanity Fair in an article titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%,” about this yawning gap that has been nurtured by the economic policies of the Right, and embraced by too many Democratic leaders.
“While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall,” he wrote. “All the growth in recent decades – and more – has gone to those at the top.”
The shrinking middle class is increasingly taking note of this picture, recent polls bear this out. At capitalgainsandgames, Bruce Bartlett cites 23 recent polls that show overwhelming numbers of respondents believe the budget deficit must be tackled by tax increases, not just spending cuts.
And the wrangling over national debt is just part of the ongoing effort by the nation’s wealthiest to keep things just the way they are. As Stiglitz wrote in his piece, “The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but the truth is they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.”