On Apr. 16, the wealthy experienced the benefit of having a few well-placed friends in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate. Those Republicans blocked action on the "Paying a Fair Share Act" (S.2230), a piece of tax legislation that would require the rich to pay at the same tax rate as most of the middle and working class.
The bill is nicknamed the "Buffet Rule," because of a remark by billionaire Warren Buffet's that he ought to pay the same tax rate on his income as his secretary. Most of the wealthy pay far less than working families, due to loopholes and tax breaks for capital gains income.
The average tax rate for the super-rich in the U.S. is at its lowest in 50 years, notes the AFL-CIO, after many rounds of tax cuts including those in favor of the rich by former president George Bush. Meanwhile, the middle class has seen their taxes either remain the same or increase during the 50-year period.
AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel told senators, "If we want our economy to heal, we must tackle this growing economic inequality on an urgent basis. The best place to start is putting America back to work and making full employment our top priority."
Of millionaires in 2009, 22,000 households making over $1 million paid less than 15 percent per year of their income in income taxes; 1,470 paid no federal income taxes on their million-dollar+ incomes, IRS data shows.
And during the past 30 years, nearly two-thirds of income gains in the U.S. went to the richest 10 percent.
"We cannot afford any further delay in putting in place economic policies that will lay the foundation for broadly shared prosperity in the long term," Samuel stressed. "Of course, this will require additional revenue, since federal tax receipts are currently at their lowest levels in 50 years as a share of gross domestic product.
"It's only fair and right to ask the people who have benefited from the economic policies of the past 30 years to pitch in and clean up the mess they have made."
Photo: keegstra // CC 2.0