The amount of wealth inequality across the country is staggering. The top 1% of Americans own as much wealth as the bottom 90%. Think about that: a segment of the population roughly the size of Chicago owns as much wealth as a segment of population the size of every state outside of Texas. The average worker has to work full-time for a month to make as much money as the average CEO makes in an hour. Think about that the next time you’re in an hour-long meeting with your CEO. Did he or she contribute 400 times more value than you did? Because that’s what they just got paid. And to make things even worse, due to exotic corporate loopholes and tax havens, the CEO will end up taking home a higher percentage of that money than you do. Why are we ok with this?
I believe we need to take decisive steps to transform the broken economic system that funnels all of our economic growth into the hands of the very few richest people and corporations. This should be one of our top priorities as a nation. If our national wealth was distributed evenly across all 310 million Americans, every American would bring home $179,000 each year. Now subtract your actual salary from $179,000. That share of your money is going to somebody wealthier than you. I don’t know about you, but that ticks me off!
Now I’m not advocating for a socialized system where everyone makes the same amount of money, because it’s critical that people feel motivated to continue working hard and climbing the ladder. But we need to focus less on how amazing the reward is at the top of the ladder, and more on how close together the rungs are. People won’t even try to climb if they can’t even see the next rung.
One of the best tools we have at our disposal to close the wealth gap is to revise the tax system. We need to raise the top tax rate on people making over $400,000 a year, and implement the so-called “Buffet Rule,” which ensures that no matter what loopholes they exploit, people making over $1 million per year pay at least as high a tax rate as those making less than $100,000. We also need to eliminate the carried interest tax loophole for hedge fund managers, restrict access to foreign tax havens, and close tax loopholes that benefit the biggest and wealthiest corporations.
Peter Roskam is one of the principle architects of the GOP tax plan currently working its way through Congress. Unfortunately, Roskam’s tax plan would only exacerbate the vast wealth inequality in this country. His proposal would cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, and eliminate the Estate Tax. So we are clear on the implications of that plan: cutting the corporate tax rate would result in a massive deficit, one which is likely to be made up down the road by cuts to the social safety net. It would cause enormous economic hardship for graduate students and those with high medical expenses, and would remove the state and local tax deductions relied on by almost half of all tax filers in the 6th District. Those who already have more money than they could ever spend will see a windfall, but most workers won’t see a dime. And eliminating the Estate Tax would only affect people who have more than $5.5 million.
Just to recap: Peter Roskam’s tax plan pours billions of dollars into the pockets of the nation’s wealthiest citizens, and does nothing to help those who actually need tax relief.
It’s important to understand that revising our tax code to help those at the bottom is not about incentivizing lazy people to become dependent on the government. We just want to give people the tools they need to become self-reliant. It is brutally unfair that we blame those without money for their plight, when we know that the system is skewed so severely towards the super-rich.
When we talk about the need to close the wealth gap, it’s not because we’re jealous of those who have more than us. It’s not that we feel we’re entitled for something we haven’t earned. It’s because we see clearly how wasteful it is to allow those who are already wealthy to keep making exponentially more money. When resources keep funneling to those who don’t need them, it’s a waste. That wasteful practice has become the foundation of our economy. It’s not just immoral, it’s not just unfair, it’s actually the main thing that stands between us and the better world that we all believe in.
Paid for and Authorized by Ryan Huffman for Congress