February 22, 2011- If you are not numbered among the wealthiest five percent of Americans with the distinct prospect of securing 85 percent of your annual income across the length of your retirement, you should be terribly worried. If you don't qualify, the present Republican onslaught is not for you.
Thirty years in the making, the Republicans are bent on evaporating anything that resembles a public good, on curtailing government and most anything government does beyond security and basic services. They are committed to dissolving all regulatory regimes, from financial and banking to environmental conditions and labor standards. They are insisting on swapping out social security support for privatized and self-directed retirement schemes (401(k)'s). They are pushing to dissolve public education and to destroy union representation, especially for public workers such as teachers. And they are working to outsource public functions to private for-profit outfits.
The current trend has a long trail. Contrary to what tax-cut rationalizers have been insisting, Bush-era tax cuts diminished, not increased, total income in the US – by $2.7 trillion. In 2008, average income was down 5.8 percent compared to 2000. One in every eight dollars in tax reductions went to the top .1 percent of taxpayers (those earning $2 million per year or more). These are the same tax reductions extended in December 2010 for another two years by Obama under Republican pressure. In the mid-1970's, the top one percent owned 20 percent of the nation's wealth. Today, it is closer to 35 percent. The top 20 percent own 80 percent, the bottom 20 percent something like one percent.
Where Republicans are unable to achieve their desired ends directly, they do it by indirection, starving public services of the means to pay for public activities, or now, as in Wisconsin, fabricating budget shortfalls by arranging large corporate tax reductions as a pretext to cut social programs. The overwhelming beneficiaries of this drastic rolling back and restricting of taxes, old and new, are corporations and the wealthiest of citizens, to the detriment of everyone else.