Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Must read for potential GOP voters


Republican policies from Reagan to Bush are largely responsible for the obscene disparities of wealth and income in our country. The problem has been exacerbated by Congressional Republicans who have supported the needs of the rich while attacking middle-class and low-income programs. Here are some of the results of their work. 

1. We are close to having the worst wealth inequality in the entire world.

Out of 150 countries, we have the 5th-highest wealth disparity. We have a greater wealth gap than the countries traditionally viewed as unequal, such as those in Africa and South America. 

We fare a little better on income inequality, although with regard to developed (OECD) countries, we have the 7th highest income gap among 34 nations. 

2. Just five men together made more money than the entire U.S. foreign aid budget last year.

Our "winner take all" mentality allows -- indeed, encourages -- the richest Americans to take billions of dollars that could be used to support the needs of our society or the people of the world. The richest 5 Americans increased their estates by a total of $34 billion last year. Official Development Assistance (ODA) was a little over $30 billion. This amount represented just 1/5 of 1% of our GDP, the 5th lowest giving rate of 23 OECD countries. 

The same distorted allocation of wealth is evident within our own borders. In 2011 each ONE of the 10 richest Americans made, on average, as much as the entire budget for theNational Cancer Institute

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3. The men taking billions did not earn it through hard work and innovation. 

60 percent of the income for the Forbes 400 came from capital gains. Much of the rest came from carried interest, performance-related pay, stock options, and deferred compensation

The rich don't innovate. Market watch estimates that over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate. According to economist Richard Wolff, about half of the assets of the richest 1% are held in unincorporated business equity (personal business accounts). 

The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey confirmed that the very rich spend less than two percent of their money on new business startups. Other studies from the Treasury Department andAmerican Progress said the same. 

4. The rich get almost as much from tax expenditures as Americans get from Social Security and Medicare.

The common complaint from the wealthiest Americans is that entitlements cause the deficit. But according to the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures, which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion. 

In comparison, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that about $1.2 trillion is spent on Social Security and Medicare. 

5. After all this, the rich have multiplied their wealth -- tax-free -- overseas.

The Tax Justice Network estimates that up to $32 trillion is hidden offshore, with about 40% of it, or $12.8 trillion, owned by Americans. This is close to the annual U.S. GDP of $15 trillion a year. 

Inequality, it can reasonably be concluded, is worse than we thought. The policies of people like Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan and George Bush made it happen. Congressional Republicans intensified it. Ralph Nader says, "Has there ever been a more crazed, cruel, anti-people, corporate-indentured, militaristic and monetized Republican Party in its 154-year history?" 

No, we've never seen anything like this before. And a vote for Romney will make it even worse.

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