Fiscal Cliff Debate Masks America’s Catastrophic Wealth Inequality

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Would a true Democracy—supposedly, based on majority rule—allow an economic system that favors the impoverishment of the many to enrich a few?


[Speaking Truth To Power]

Tuesday,
as the 112 Congress was preparing to make way for the incoming 113
Congress, the House of Representatives passed legislation, sending it to
President Obama’s desk for signing, to avoid the so-called “fiscal
cliff” which would’ve led to across the board tax increases for every
American. 
 
The New Year legislation is a nudge in the right
direction towards economic fairness. However, when will Washington be
forced to honestly debate America’s undemocratic economic system which
enriches the few at the expense of the many? 
 
Tuesday evening
the House voted 257 to 167 to approve the legislation to raise taxes on
the wealthiest Americans. 151 Republicans and 16  Democrats voted
against the measure. The House vote followed the early Tuesday morning
Senate vote on a deal spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden and
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell which passed by a Senate vote
of 89-8. The bill was then sent to the House. 
 
Under the deal,
tax rates would only rise on wealthy Americans. Individuals making over
$400,000 and couples making over $450,000 would see their tax rates rise
from 35 percent to 39 percent and tax deductions and credits would be
gradually ended for those making $250,000. Unemployment insurance would
also be extended for a year. Prior to the vote, President Obama had
called for a swift vote from the House saying “While neither Democrats
nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right
thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without
delay.” 
 
This legislation is indeed a step in the right
direction. However, the rancorous struggle it took to achieve something
so basically modest, in terms of fiscal fairness for average American
workers, tells us several unpleasant things about the oligarchic system
of economic elitism and exploitation that is ruining America. 
 
In
2012, the Congressional Budget Office reported that between 1979 and
2007 America’s top 1 percentage of households doubled their pre-tax
income as the share of America’s bottom 80 percent saw their income
fall.  
 
And in 2010, the top 1 percent controlled 20 percent of
the American income pie; examined even further, the top 10 percent
controlled nearly 50 percent of that pie. 
 
Isn’t it time
Americans question whether this current financial scheme and wealth
inequality is a benefit or detriment to the nation’s general
well-being? 
 
Let’s be honest about something from the start:
today’s Washington politicians are failing miserably to fulfill their
duty to average voters. 
 
Big business and their money have
turned Washington into a sordid den of collaborative thieves who’re
unduly influenced by personal financial gain and are accepting the
bribes of corporate America and Wall Street moneychangers. Both parties,
in this regard, have sold out Americans and are truly not earnestly
doing the people’s work. 
 
Yet, Republicans are far worse. 
 
For
years now, these regressive Republicans have been hard at
work—occasionally, with the help of Democrats—destroying progressive
programs many working Americans and average folks fought for.  
 
Starting
with their standard bearer, former President Ronald Reagan, Republicans
have been busy bees attacking legislative policies that were enacted to
remedy unfair economic conditions that have been fostered by the
wealthy. In the past three decades, who’ve been rewarded by Republican
policies? 
 
In the 1980s President Reagan and Republicans
launched assaults against Affirmative Action and Welfare—while use
racism to fool many poor white Americans into thinking Republicans were
only fighting against “unfair quotas” and such.  
 
But while
Republicans were using prejudice to unravel these necessary remedial
programs, they were also laying the groundwork for what we’ve witnessed
these last few years: underhanded maneuvers to annihilate
collective-bargaining, while weakening unions and average American
workers’ rights.  
 
President Reagan’s firing of some 11, 345 air
traffic controllers may’ve been the first salvo directed toward the
current attempts to takedown unions. 
 
Lately, we’ve heard a lot
of babbling baloney about things like “Right-to-Work” legislation,
fighting to strengthen Social Security, reducing spending, preserving
Medicare, etc. This tricky talk is, mostly, hogwash.  
 
All these
tactics are attempts to eviscerate programs big business feels should
be killed so workers can be further exploited and impoverished—allowing
greedy money-grubbing bosses to claim even more loot than they have now.
 
 
Unscrupulous state Republican politicians like Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Michigan Governor
Rick Snyder are working hand-in-hand with the likes of House Speaker
John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Leader Mitch
McConnell to achieve this. 
 
In fact, it’s no secret many of
these Republicans have a stated mission to remove New Deal legislation
implemented in the years after the 1929 Wall Street Crash and signed by
President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  
 
Imagine these folks have the
nerve to tell us there’s too much regulation on Wall Street after the
mass global robbery orchestrated by those master thieves of the universe
that led to the Wall Street Crash of 2007-8. , 
 
Republicans
fought the Dodd-Frank bill which is truly not as stringent a bill as
should’ve been enacted after this latest scandalous Wall Street money
grab. What message does it send if not one solitary person is prosecuted
for these crimes that have destroyed the lives of so many people? 
 
Republicans’
message is the same for oil and gun merchants. They chant “drill baby,
drill” and to hell with any environmental cost that may occur, even
after the 2010 Deep Water Horizon disaster in Louisiana. In Connecticut,
we witnessed the murder of 20 children., Yet, ever sucking on the teats
of big business lobbyists, like the NRA, they look for ever excuse
possible to slaughter sensible gun legislation. 
 
For 40 years or
so the productivity of the American worker has continually risen, while
wages have stagnated and CEO pay has skyrocketed. Americans proudly
tout American “democracy.” But would a true Democracy—supposedly, based
on majority rule—allow an economic system that favors the impoverishment
of the many to enrich a few? 
 
For a couple years now,
Republicans have held tax-breaks for most Americans hostage because they
say the richest two percent should get a tax-break.  
 
Isn’t it
clear whose interests they’re serving? In the last few years, we’ve
heard much talk about “controlling spending.” Republicans, who pushed
for tax-breaks for the wealthy, while launching two unpaid wars, now
tell us we must curb spending by raising the retirement age, gutting
programs like Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicaid and Medicare.  
 
They
say Americans have too much “entitlements.” Apparently, they don’t
think we’re entitled to these meager modicums of the democratic fruits
that we work and pay taxes for. 
 
But while railing against
“entitlements,” they tell us the already bloated military budget should
be increased—and by belligerent behavior they’d have us engaging in more
senseless foreign wars, invasions and occupations.  
 
Of course, these campaigns further enriches those merchants exporting death and misery abroad through American foreign policy. 
 
We’ve just embarked on another new year: 2013. Many people are crying for fundamental change.  
 
Americans
elected and reelected President Obama hoping for true change. But can
there be meaningful change if economic inequality isn’t addressed?,  
 
We
must realize Washington’s wanton ways won’t fully change until “We the
People” force them to uphold our full democratic rights, including the
right to a truly livable income, in an America made prosperous by all of
us. 
 
 
"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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