Meantime, from 2009 to 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent jumped 31 percent.
This is what Democrats mean when they talk about income inequality; if you’re at the top, you’re doing well; if you’re among the other 99 percent, not so much.
“American inequality began its upswing 30 years ago, along with tax decreases for the rich and the easing of regulations on the financial sector. That’s no coincidence,” explains Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. “It has worsened as we have under-invested in our infrastructure, education and health care systems, and social safety nets.”
We’ve “underinvested” because the 1 percent, whose interests are tirelessly advocated by House and Senate Republicans, don’t need infrastructure, education, health care or social safety nets. They have private limos, private jets, private schools, private colleges, private hospitals and piles of private cash.
This simple logic often draws the charge of “class warfare” from the right. What’s ironic is that many who parrot this popular conservative prevarication are themselves in the middle of the middle class, watching their own incomes stagnate or fall.
As the 2014 midterm election approaches, voters will hear a lot about income inequality. President Obama has lately been ripping nonexistent “trickle down economics” while blasting the absurd notion that godly “job creators” will selflessly look out for the interests of the middle class and poor.
“The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe,” Obama said last month, calling on Republicans to act.
“You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you’re against,” the president added.
We know Republicans were against Obama’s 2011 jobs bill that would have put a million or more unemployed Americans back to work and be fully paid for in 10 years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
In addition to cutting payroll taxes for small businesses, Obama’s jobs bill would have funded critically needed infrastructure projects important to the middle class and poor including schools, highways, and bridges.
It would also have provided funding for more firefighters, police officers and teachers, the latter of which Cobb County could sorely use today.
But Republicans protected their wealthy patrons, refusing to pass the jobs bill because it would have added a 5.6 percent surtax on those earning over $1 million per year.
So instead of finding jobs, 1.3 million unemployed Americans had their Emergency Unemployment Compensation cut off just in time for Christmas by Georgia Reps. Phil Gingrey, Tom Price, Jack Kingston, Paul Broun and the rest of the Republican Scrooges.
“The government destroys wealth,” growled Rush Limbaugh last week. “El Rushbo,” who makes $70 million annually and benefits from Republican obstruction, would be in no danger of going on food stamps if he had to pay the 5.6 percent surtax.
Likewise, Las Vegas gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who blew more than $100 million on Obama attack ads in 2012, is worth nearly $30 billion. The surtax on Adelson’s income would represent a rounding error.
To the extent there is any class warfare today, it’s being viciously waged by the GOP on the middle class and poor, not on Rush Limbaugh and Sheldon Adelson.
Cobb County voters who say they’re conservatives should ask themselves if their continued support of Republican candidates is hurting their own pocketbooks.
Harry Truman has the answer for them: “If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic,” an axiom truer today than when Truman coined it.
Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.