This shrinking piece of the economic pie for the middle class corresponds almost exactly to two signature Republican policies: tax cuts for the wealthy (and not the middle class), and the decimation of unions.
Source: Who Killed American Unions?
This is no accident. The Republican party knows its policies are hurting the middle class. They simply don’t care. Because most Republican politicians aren’t in the middle class, and most of the donors who fund the campaigns of Republican politicians certainly aren’t in the middle class. They are in the wealthy class, and that’s who has been benefiting by these policies that have been hurting the middle class. In essence, the wealthy have been taking a large share of the country’s wealth away from the middle class through policies enacted by Republican politicians whose campaigns they fund.
From these charts, it should be quite obvious what is going on: through tax cuts for the wealthy and the decimation of unions, the wealthy in the United States are steadily taking a larger share of the country’s wealth, while the middle class and below are seeing their share of the country’s wealth steadily decline.
So, how are Republicans and their wealthy donors getting away with this? They distract the country by using scapegoats. They blame immigrants and they blame the poor. They castigate those that are on welfare. They castigate those that use food stamps. They talk about “Obamaphones” and try to get those with little to look down on those who have even less. Better to have people looking down for someone to blame, than looking up for someone to blame. All the while, they pass union-busting legislation that ends up creating more poor people for them to cast blame upon. It is a never-ending cycle.
We are well past time for the cycle to be broken. How can that cycle be broken? Pretty simply, really: by not just fighting against the Republican tax cuts for the wealthy and anti-union policies, but by reversing those policies and heading in the opposite direction altogether. What is that opposite direction? Raising taxes on the wealthy and reducing taxes on the middle class, and actively promoting the formation of new unions and expansion of existing unions. That would, in effect, reverse the direction we have been going for decades and get the middle class back the share of the country’s wealth that was stolen from them by the wealthy.
But, of course, once someone has something, they don’t want to let it go, and the wealthy are not going to want to let go of what they have taken. They will claim that all of the income they earn is due to their hard work, ignoring the workers who they employ. They will claim that raising income taxes on the rich is socialism or income redistribution, ignoring the fact that the wealthy pay a much smaller share of their income on other taxes like sales taxes, payroll taxes, and property taxes, which is why they have always paid a higher share of income taxes in the first place. They will fight, and they are well organized, and well funded.
But there are Democratic leaders that can and are willing to fight.
Like Elizabeth Warren:
- Raising the minimum wage so no one should work full-time and still live in poverty
- Supporting the right for workers to bargain together
- Enforcing labor laws so workers get overtime pay and pensions that are fully funded
- Giving equal pay for equal work
- Protecting Social Security, Medicare and pensions
- Investing in roads, bridges, power grids, education and research to create good jobs in the short run and help build new opportunities over the long run
- Making sure all Americans and corporations pay a fair share to build a future for all
- Having trade policies and tax codes to strengthen the American economy, raise living standards and create jobs
And Chuck Schumer:
Senate Democrats unveiled on Wednesday a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would be funded by repealing numerous tax cuts Republicans pushed through Congress last year.
The plan would return the top individual tax rate to 39.6 percent, set the corporate tax rate at 25 percent, go back to 2017 law for the Alternative Minimum Tax, undo the exemption increase for the estate tax and end the beneficial tax treatment of carried interest.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the plan would fund investments in roads, bridges, schools, airports and “universal” high-speed internet, among other things.
And Nancy Pelosi:
Raise the wages and incomes of American workers and create millions of good-paying jobs: Our plan for A Better Deal starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure and prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests. We will aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade and fight back against corporations that outsource American jobs. We will fight to ensure a living wage for all Americans and keep our promise to millions of workers who earned a pension, Social Security and Medicare, so seniors can retire with dignity.
■ Lower the costs of living for families: We will offer A Better Deal that will lower the crippling cost of prescription drugs and the cost of a college or technical education that leads to a good job. We will fight for families struggling with high monthly bills like childcare, credit card fees, and cable bills. We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business – and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.
■ Build an economy that gives working Americans the tools to succeed in the 21st Century:: Americans deserve the chance to get the skills, tools, and knowledge to find a good-paying job or to move up in their career to earn a better living. We will commit to A Better Deal that provides new tax incentives to employers that invest in workforce training and education and make sure the rules of the economy support companies that focus on long-term growth, rather than short-term profits. We will make it a national priority to bring high-speed Internet to every corner of America and offer apprenticeships to millions of new workers. We will encourage innovation, invest in advanced research and ensure start-ups and small businesses can compete and prosper.
It is quite simple, if Republicans are in power, they will fight to lower the share of income that is earned by the middle class so that the wealthy can have a higher share. If Democrats are in power, they will do the opposite. The wealthy have been winning this battle for decades now. It is time for the middle class to start fighting back.