So … the rich and powerful aren’t rich and powerful enough? That’s our problem?

CDJSe0FXIAE1Wya-1
Bill O’Reilly — aka the Falklands Fusilier or the Malvinas Marauder, depending on which side you took in that conflict — decided the other night to treat his audience to a dissertation on income inequality, an issue that is likely to dominate the 2016 elections. The general thrust of O’Reilly’s argument is reflected in the screengrab posted above: He and others in his tax bracket deserve our sympathy for the abysmal, abusive conditions under which they are forced to operate, while everybody else in the country has it pretty good.

“Taxes are everywhere on affluent Americans and business profits,” O’Reilly complained in his monologue. “But how much more? How much more can the government take from the affluent without crashing the entire free-market economy? That’s the real question in Campaign 2016.”

On the most basic, factual level, O’Reilly’s thesis is fraudulent. When we came perilously close to “crashing the entire free-market economy” in 2008, for example, it came after a succession of tax cuts for the wealthy. In addition, taxes on corporate profits and high-income Americans are not “through the roof,” as he claims. They are well in line with where they have been throughout American history, and in fact below the post-WW II average..

In 1989, the year that the sainted Ronald Reagan left office, corporate taxes amounted to 1.9 percent of GDP. In 2014, “through-the-roof” corporate taxes amounted to … 1.9 percent of GDP.

In 1989, after eight years of tax-cutting Reaganomics, the average effective tax rate on the richest 1 percent of Americans was 28.3 percent. In 2011, the most recent year for which we have data, the average effective tax rate on the richest 1 percent was 29 percent. It has probably ticked up a point or two since then, but it is still below levels in the 1990s, when we experienced the longest economic boom in our nation’s history.

Theoretically, taxes on capital and investment would be a legitimate concern in an economy that is struggling with capital formation. But this is not such an economy, to put it mildly.  To the contrary, we have an economy that is all but drowning in available capital, with most of it concentrating at the very top of the income scale.

In the chart below, for example, O’Reilly’s aggrieved and struggling top 10 percent are represented in red, while those supposedly doing well in O’ReillyWorld are represented in blue. As you can see, average income for the bottom 90 percent has fallen during the recovery, while income has soared for those in the pitiable top 10 percent.

pavlina_tcherneva.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

The metrics go on and on. Corporate AFTER-TAX profits are at an all-time high. As a share of the national economy, corporate after-tax profits and dividends are more than twice their post-war average. The stock market is at record highs. And wealth?

The richest 10 percent of the richest 1 percent now own 23 percent of the nation’s wealth, far exceeding anything seen in this country for the last 100 years and once again demonstrating that capital formation is the least of our problems in this economy. A shortage of customers with enough income to buy goods and services, and with enough economic security to spend what money they do have — THAT is the problem.

OK. But why spend so much time and attention dismantling the rants of a cable-news bloviator? It’s a good question, but it has a good answer: Because O’Reilly is hardly alone in his preachments.

The sentiment that animates the graphic displayed above also animates the economic policy of the entire Republican Party, including the tax-reform proposals that it champions at the federal and state levels and the platforms of every single one of its presidential candidates. It is also the primary cause of the various billionaires who are adopting individual GOP candidates as if they were horses with whom they hope to win the Kentucky Derby.

Given all that, it’s almost humorous to see the “but, but … Hillary is rich!” counter-argument coming from Republicans. Yes, she certainly is rich. She and her husband have taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to them. It is also quite true that as a Democratic senator from New York, Clinton was deeply solicitous of Wall Street and its interests. Her instincts are naturally those of the old-fashioned, moderate, Midwest Republican background from which she came, rather than those of the populist left.

Compared to the modern Republican Party, however, those now-extinct old-fashioned moderate, Midwest Republicans would look like raving socialists.  They have certainly been expunged from the party that was once their home.

Put another way, the terms of the political debate have swung so far to the right on economic issues that a centrist like Clinton now looks downright liberal. And in a general election contest against a Republican candidate who attributes our problems to an insufficient fealty to the wealthy, in defiance of data and common sense, I doubt that attacks on her own large bank account will pay the dividends that would justify the investment.

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1144 comments
Bud Meyers
Bud Meyers

U.S. businesses made $1.8 trillion in after-tax profits last year. To date they have over $2.1 trillion in overseas profits stashed offshore. They are also currently paying historically low "effective tax rates" (while some pay no tax at all, and many actually get government subsidies). And last year the U.S. merger-and-acquisitions market (worth $1 billion or more) rose 43% from the year before. And last year American companies have spent nearly $1 trillion on stock buybacks and dividends. So if they've been over-taxed, where have they found all this cash?
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/us-corporations-spent-1-trillion-stock-buybacks-5737

Old Indian
Old Indian

Can't stand this man,when his guest try to respond, he over talks them,and his opinion is the only one,he is a first rate jerk in my opinion.

JamVet
JamVet

@td1234 @JamVet 

So your solution is what? Stop allowing people to move to S. FL? CA has no water and it has been known for years that water was an issue. Should they have not allowed you to move there? 

Your proposed "solution" is stupid and draconian, td.

And as always immature.

All while you had a chance to elevate the discussion about the environmental danger to the Everglades.

You should try another hobby...

A less mentally strenuous one...

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Bring back the federal income tax rates of the 1950s and prorate the brackets,  that will have them not wishing for the good ole days. That Fox cat is a poser of an actor.

libsofhate
libsofhate

The only time lib/dems get to see the Everglades is watching re-runs of C.S.I. Miami....


You ignorant people...

gotalife
gotalife

Broke cons fighting for the wealthy is self defeatism.


When will you fight for yourselves and your families cons?


What did you get for fighting for the wealthy cons?

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

@gotalife What do every metropolitan slum have in common?  Decades of Democrat rule.  When are you ever going to learn?  What has your war on poverty gotten you?  More people dependent on the government .

gotalife
gotalife

Just look at their names and expect rw media lies.

libsofhate
libsofhate

@gotalife What an uncanny ability. Just know that someone lies from their name. "You people" are just magical...


You fruits...

libsofhate
libsofhate

@consumedconsumer @libsofhate Is it possible for "you people" to think for yourselves instead of believing everything idiot jay is shoveling down your throats? Sorry... "You people" deserve to be insulted...


You loons.. 

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Don't believe Jay. Go down in the weeds. After you've confirmed the truth of the statistic, decide for yourself if handing 23% of the nation's wealth to one tenth of one percent of the population is good economic policy.

Call me names if that makes you feel better, but know that this one doesn't take anyone at face value. I learned critical thinking at an early age. Don't claim superior knowledge, but it's not for the lack of curiousity.

gotalife
gotalife

Hillary's toughest job will be trying for a better legacy than President Obama.

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

@gotalife I didn't know she was much of a golfer.  If she follows Bill's lead and just let the Republican Congress run things, she'll be light years ahead of obama.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@Recon2/3 oh, yeah . . . read the full post. including the last paragraph (where no one wants to go I know, but where the tidbits they don't want you to really know frequently are put)


[U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez. said] there is "no indication" that immigration officers were aware at that time he was a known gang member. However, he said a separate database indicated he was. He said USCIS has provided new training.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Visual_Cortex @Recon2/3 

The death of four innocent people by the hand of someone who should have been deported before he committed those murders and you call that bigotry? You need some serious help getting your values straight. 

libsofhate
libsofhate

@Recon2/3 The lame stream media certainly won't report it...


Those sorry idiot people...

libsofhate
libsofhate

@gotalife @Recon2/3 Explain how this is a lie... The man should have been deported but under obama's executive order he was allowed to stay..


You fruits can't handle the truth...

libsofhate
libsofhate

@Visual_Cortex @Recon2/3 Oh like how "you people" constantly have to run blacks back on the plantation occasionally when they step out of line...


You ignorant raciest people..

td1234
td1234

@Recon2/3 Would you really think they would care seeing that this is the same lot that approve of the deaths of millions of babies each and every year. As long as someone is progressing their agenda and helping them elected they could careless about whom they kill. 

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Say it's true? Bummer. That's what free elections are for. But what's crawling you?

If the guy's accused of murder, what's better for the family of the victim: sending him home to live life free or keeping him here, trying him and putting him in prison for life?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Recon2/3

I'm so glad the GOP gets people like you supporting them.

I'd hate to have to apologize for that kind of bigotry among my own.

td1234
td1234

Nick writes: "Last time I was down there the Everglades looked better than ever..."

You are a very silly person.


***************************************


I went on an air boat tour 2 weeks ago in the Everglades and it looked better than the last time I had went about 10 years before. 

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 as i mentioned, y'all need to that the state and federal government for protecting this resource. but you won't . . .

JamVet
JamVet

@td1234 

Utterly irrelevant.

Your anecdotes are not valid compared to the massive research detailing their endangerment.

Read at your own intellectual peril...

The Everglades is now less than half its original size. 1,800 miles of canals and dams break it up, with water control points and pump stations diverting the natural flow of water to coastal towns and cities. Water must be released to estuaries to prevent flooding and Florida finds itself in a situation where there is often too much water in the wet years, and not enough in the dry.

Sixty years ago, demographers predicted South Florida’s population would reach two million people by the 21st century. It’s already at seven million, and expected to double in the next 50 years.

All that growth has squeezed the Everglades as development reached inland from both coasts to accommodate the burgeoning population. And with the people came pollution, especially phosphorus from the fertilizers used in agricultural areas north and south of Lake Okeechobee.

Extremely low levels of nutrients, such as phosphorus, are part of the reason that the Everglades is a unique mosaic of sawgrass, tree islands, and open water. However, the nutrient pollution, such as that coming from agricultural runoff and other fertilizers, allows for the growth of species that upset the balance of the ecosystem such as cattails, harmful algal blooms and duckweed. The sulfur in this agricultural fertilizer, through a complex series of biological and chemical processes, leads to accumulations of toxic mercury in fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals, even in the endangered Florida panther.

Nutrient pollution and overdrainage are not the only threats the Everglades faces.  Exotic plants and animals can be thought of as a kind of biological pollution. Exotic animals, such as Burmese pythons, and exotic plants, such as Brazilian pepper and Australian pine, displace natives and threaten to disrupt ecosystem balance.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@td1234 

td, the machine has eaten two long replies I have written, and I don't know what the bluenose's problem is.  I share your appreciation of the Everglades, but there are still some issues, that the censor apparently doesn't want me to talk about.

td1234
td1234

@JamVet @td1234 So your solution is what? Stop allowing people to move to S. FL? CA has no water and it has been known for years that water was an issue. Should they have not allowed you to move there? 

td1234
td1234

@Nick_Danger @td1234 There are issues but they all started a hundred or so years ago when they attempted to "drain the swamp" and I really do not see what else can be done right now. 

libsofhate
libsofhate

@td1234 They believe whatever obama or his droods tell them. They are a sad uneducated lot...


Those ignorant people..

libsofhate
libsofhate

@consumedconsumer @td1234 The link you provided was the state government which is run by Republicans. So yes. Thank you Republican leadership for protecting the everglades..


You loons...