Who’s Really Redistributing Wealth?

Following the “Mitt Happens” moment in which Romney was caught on video disparaging the 47 percent who pay no income taxes, Teapublicans have countered, claiming that President Obama and the Democrats are guilty of trying to “redistribute wealth.”

Apparently, they believe Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits, GI Bill benefits, Unemployment Insurance and Food Stamps are evidence of “class warfare.”

Fact is, redistribution of wealth has occured since the beginning of graduated federal income taxes in 1862.  The idea was to ask the wealthy to pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than those who are less fortunate.  Our tax code embraced the idea until the election of Ronald Reagan.

Reagan’s flawed policy of “Trickle Down” economics greatly reduced tax rates for the rich while, at the same time, increasing taxes on the poor and the middle class.  Indeed, one of the largest tax increases in history was Reagan’s elimination of tax deductions for interest on loans: car loans, college loans, credit card loans, etc.  Now who do you think was harmed the most by that change?

Around the same time, Reagan eliminated the estate tax (aka the “death tax”) so the wealthy could pass their accumulated wealth to their children without penalty, and Teapublicans cut the capital gains tax rate paid on earnings from stocks and other investments.

More recently, the infamous Bush tax cuts were also weighted to benefit the wealthy.

But that’s only part of the redistribution of wealth upward.  During the past 40 years, multi-national corporations have been given a host of unfair competitive advantages over their smaller competitors.  Teapublican policies not only encouraged them to ship jobs overseas. They allowed multi-nationals to shelter income overseas in order to avoid paying taxes to the very government responsible for their success.

Meanwhile, small businesses and ordinary citizens have been asked to take up the slack.

The result of all this is the hollowing out of the middle class, the destruction of our domestic manufacturing base and the deterioration of our infrastructure.  It has led to higher unemployment, lower federal revenues, decaying cities, higher poverty and millions without access to basic healthcare.  Over the same time period, the wealthy have gotten even wealthier.

Class warfare, indeed!