EDITORIAL Wealthy vs. healthy

The nation’s biggest banks are awash in profits. Wells Fargo reports second-quarter profits up 47 percent over a year ago. It raked in $2.58 billion, up from $1.75 billion for the same period last year.

Citigroup reported $3 billion second-quarter profits. Bank of America made $2.42 billion. Goldman Sachs reported the largest quarterly profit in its 140-year history and will be paying whopping bonuses to its executives.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal, of all places, reports, “The nation's wealth gap is widening amid an uproar about lofty pay packages in the financial world.”

“Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the U.S.,” the Journal reports.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is waging a multi-million-dollar campaign opposing health care reform legislation that includes a public insurance option and pays for universal health care by taxing the tiny group of super-rich Americans.

A public plan would have “unfair advantage over private plans, eventually crowding out private plans from the marketplace,” the Chamber complains.

Portraying itself as the voice of small businesses, the Chamber sobs that taxing the super-rich — as House bill HR 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, calls for — “would victimize small business owners.”

But the Chamber of Commerce board of directors is laden with executives of giant corporations that have benefited from government handouts, while leaving small businesses in the dust: Pfizer, Caterpillar, Deere, IBM, 3M, ConocoPhillips, Massey, Peabody and Duke Energy, Nike, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Eastman Kodak, UPS, FedEx, Xerox, Kimberly-Clark, Anheuser-Busch, Fox Entertainment, CVS, Rolls Royce, Dow, Alcoa … we’re out of space.

It’s their own lavish loot these folks are worried about.

The House bill will benefit small businesses, experts say.

But it requires folks at the top to give back some of the Bush tax cuts they have been enjoying at our expense.

What it amounts to, Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute says, is the top 1 percent of income earners “would have to delay a pay raise for somewhere between 1 to 9 months.”

Wait, isn’t that what most Americans have been doing for quite a while now — if we haven’t had to take a pay cut, that is — if we still have a job?

Call your congressmember now. Tell him/her you support taxing the rich to fund real health reform with a public plan.