We must end tax breaks for America's millionaires. Extending Bush's tax cuts for the very rich will mean income inequality, already growing to historic levels, will continue to swell, the deficit will increase and few jobs will be created.
Congress seems sure to extend tax cuts for 97.51 percent of Nevadans who earn less than $250,000 annually. The only item on the table now is whether to allow the very rich to continue raking in cash, or to reinstate the taxes they were paying 10 years ago.
The ruse that cutting taxes for the rich leads to more jobs must've been invented by a millionaire (or more likely, his lobbyist) who didn't want to pay taxes. Between 1992 and 2000, under higher tax rates than we have today, 21 million jobs were created. Between 2000-2008, 900,000 jobs were created. Tax cuts for the ultra rich have been proven to be inefficient and ineffective in creating jobs in a weak economy.
It's interesting how some folks such as Sen. Mitch McConnell will crow all day about the deficit, then shut up about it when supporting tax cuts for the rich. Indeed, the Bush tax cuts and (to lesser degrees) the economic downturn, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will account for virtually all of the deficit over the next 10 years.
Another reason for ending tax breaks for millionaires is to address the stunningly widening gap between rich and poor. The increasing concentration of income and wealth today is similar to that of 1929. Working people of the middle class are being squeezed out as they see their income redistributed to the wealthy, thanks to anti-labor laws and tax policies favoring the rich.
The income gaps between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007, according to Congressional Budget Office data. And adding gender and race to the mix further illuminates how deep the problem goes. A recent Brandeis University study showed middle-income white households own far more wealth than high-income African-Americans. And women of color face an enormous wealth gap when compared to the rest of society, undermining the future of their children and our countrry.
Look at a single mom who's raising kids or going to UNR, doing well, sometimes working two jobs, often without health insurance. Who works harder than that? Yet conservatives focus on helping those poor struggling millionaires!
Let's look at this misunderstood class of individuals. In 2009, the number of U.S. millionaires rose 16 percent to 7.8 million. If the Bush tax cuts are extended, these tax breaks will equal twice the annual income of the average American family.
Stop giving away the store to the ultra rich. Those tax dollars can either be used to provide a decent education for our kids, to give all workers a hand up the economic ladder, and to invest in the kind of shared opportunity that will enrich us all. Or, they can pad the savings accounts of the rich.
Bob Fulkerson is state director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. He writes from Reno.