By feeding the rich and their corporations one massive tax break after another, lawmakers have thrown a monstrous monkey wrench into our national finances.
© Jun Acullador
Once upon a time in America, back a century ago, our nation's rich paid virtually nothing in taxes to the federal government. And that same federal government did virtually nothing to better the lives of average Americans.
But those average Americans would do battle, over the next half century, to rein in the rich and the corporations that made them ever richer. And that struggle would prove remarkably successful. By the 1950s, America's rich and the corporations they ran were paying significant chunks of their annual incomes in taxes - and the federal projects and programs these taxes helped finance were actually improving average American lives.
America's wealthy, predictably, counterattacked - and, by the 1980s, they were scoring successes of their own.
Today, the rich and their corporations no longer bear anything close to their rightful share of the nation's tax burden. The federal government, given this revenue shortfall, is having a harder and harder time funding initiatives that help average working families. The result: a "debt crisis."
This "debt crisis" in no way had to happen. No natural disaster, no tsunami, has suddenly pounded the United States out of fiscal balance. We have simply suffered a colossal political failure. Our powers that be, by feeding the rich and their corporations one massive tax break after another, have thrown a monstrous monkey wrench into our national finances.
Some numbers - from an Institute for Policy Studies report released this past spring - can help us better visualize just how monumental this political failure has been.
If corporations and households taking in $1 million or more in income each year were now paying taxes at the same annual rates as they did back in 1961, the IPS researchers found, the federal treasury would be collecting an additional $716 billion a year.