Goodbye, Reggie, and thanks | Main | United we fall

June 7, 2005

Robin Hoodlums

Posted by Phil on June 7, 2005 11:19 AM

"The Bush Economy," The New York Times:

With all of the debate about taxes, the economy, and domestic spending, it is hard to imagine anyone supporting the notion of taking money from programs like Medicaid and college-tuition assistance, increasing the tax burden of the vast majority of working Americans, sending the country into crushing debt--and giving the proceeds to people who are so fantastically rich that they don't know what to do with the money they already have. Yet that is just what is happening under the Bush administration.


By 2015, those making between $80,000 and $400,000 will pay as much as 13.9 percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $400,000, assuming the tax cuts are made permanent. Below $80,000, most taxpayers will see their share of taxes rise slightly or stay the same.


One cause is that the further up the scale one goes, the more of one's income comes from investments, which under the Bush tax cuts enjoy about the lowest rates in the tax code. But many families making between $100,000 and $200,000 are not exactly on easy street. They don't face choices anywhere near as stark as those encountered further down the income ladder, but they face serious tradeoffs not experienced by the uppermost crust, particularly when hit with the triple whammy of college for the children, care for aging parents, and preparing for their own retirement.

There is something deeply wrong about a system that calls into question a comfortable retirement or a top-notch education for people who have broken into the top 20 percent of income earners. It starts to seem politically explosive when you consider that in a decade, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 will pay about five to nine percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $1 million, assuming the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

This is not about giving wealthy people more money to invest back into the economy. At this level, it's really about giving more money to those who have nothing to do with it except amass enormous estates for their heirs. Fixing the problem will require members of Congress to summon the courage to say no to a president who wants more for the richest of the rich at the expense of everyone else. We're not holding our breath.

-- "The Bush Economy," The New York Times

OK, that pretty well describes my family's "plight." But there's something even more deeply wrong with a system in which anyone can work 40 hours a week (or 60, or 80) and still not be able to afford safe, permanent housing; insurance; health care; child care; transportation; or evenings and weekends with their children.

Last week I heard another story on the radio about an American school district that couldn't afford something (books, computers, it doesn't matter) and I thought, as if for the first time, "Why should that be?" Why should kids in public schools in suburban Indianapolis or Charlotte or Denver get indoor pools, while kids in public schools in the Bronx or Mississippi or Wyoming don't have enough books?

Why should any American public school ever want for anything?

Why should any American full-time worker ever be unable to afford the basics?

God knows, there's plenty of money. (Link, link, link, link. Link, link, link, link, link.)

"It starts to seem politically explosive."

You'd think so, wouldn't you?

UPDATE: I hope I made clear by the quotes around "plight" that I don't consider my family of four to be "in" one, particularly, except in comparison with people who have "family compounds." And Matt Yglesias is right in saying we all need to pony up. I am more than ready to.