Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tax the Rich, Then Tax Them Again

by KARL GROSSMAN

For Congressional Republicans, it is a thing untouchable: tax rates for the wealthy. The United States might be sent over a so-called “fiscal cliff” at the end of this month,. primarily because most of them—and their leadership—are refusing to budge on any increase in tax rates for the rich.

President Barack Obama wants an increase back to the top tax levels of 36% and 39.5%  that existed when Bill Clinton was president.

What is hardly being mentioned as the GOPers battle with the Obama administration is that tax rates for the rich have been dramatically dropping for decades—in what Professor Richard Wolff accurately describes as being part of “class war policies.”

The “tax rates on the richest Americans fell from 91 percent in the 1950s and 1960s, and 70 percent in the 1970s, to the current low rate of 35 percent,” notes Dr. Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who is currently a visiting professor at New School University in New York City. h

The “richest Americans won that spectacular tax cut” while, he notes, “middle- and low-income Americans won no such cuts.”

This has been paralleled by how “big business and conservatives have worked to undo the regulations and taxes imposed on them in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

“Since the end of the Great Depression—and especially since the 1970s—the class warfare waged by business and its allies, most conservatives in both parties, was successful,” says Wolff, a Harvard graduate with his Ph.D. in economics from Yale.

He notes how, at the end of World War II, “for every $1 Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. In contrast, today, for every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it gets 25 cents in taxes on business. Business and its allies successfully shifted most of its federal tax burden onto individuals.”

“In plain English,” says Dr. Wolff, “the last 50 years saw a massive shift of the burden of federal taxation from business to individuals and from rich individuals to everyone else.”

Involved have been “class war policies” in a “war that victimized the vast majority of working Americans.”  And “today, business and the rich are waging class war yet again to avoid even a small, modest reverse in the huge tax cuts they won in that war over the last half-century.”

Now there are some arguing that even with their steeply reduced tax rates, the rich are paying more in taxes. Robert Frank of CNBC said earlier this year: “Despite the oft-repeated fact that tax rates for the wealthy are at an all-time low, which is true, it’s also true that the actual amount paid in taxes by the wealthy is higher than before the recession.”

Yes, because of inflation, despite the tax rate declines for the rich they are paying more in dollars—but so are middle- and lower-income Americans. And they, because they’ve not had such a dramatic tax rate decline, are paying proportionally more in terms of their income.

And there are those who say the rich are being unjustly attacked. “I believe the president has vilified this so-called 2 percent,” Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, said last week. “Vilifying people and then punitively taxing them is un-American,” he declared.

It’s nothing personal.  The bottom line is that there has been a successful effort in the U.S. to alter the progressive income tax system that is based on individuals who earn more, paying higher taxes. The tax rates for the wealthy have been reduced precipitously.

And it’s high time the wealthy again pay their fair share of taxes.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyons
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]