To the Editor:
Last year, John Paulson, a hedge fund manager, took home $4.9 billion, according to The New York Times. Ten years ago, 25 such managers together earned that much. Last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers took in a total of $22 billion. It would take over 440,000 people, each earning $50,000, to match that amount.
How did this happen? Between 1948 and 1979, the richest 10 percent of families in the US received 33 percent of average income growth. Between 2000 and 2007, the richest 10 percent got 100 percent of the average income growth in the US, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Business taxes were cut from 46 to 34 percent 25 years ago. But today, 115 of the big 500 companies listed on Standard and Poor’s stock index paid federal and other taxes of less than 20 percent over the last five years, according to David Leonhardt of The New York Times. General Electric’s tax rate for the last year was seven percent.
The top five percent of US households claim 63 percent of the entire country’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent hold just 13 percent. In other words, recently the rich have been getting richer and the poor and middle class have been getting poorer in the US. This has been called “Robin Hood in Reverse” — and it is the primary cause of the deficits President Obama inherited.
In a major speech, our president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000. He said that the size of the deficit over the next decade must be reduced, but not in ways that further damage the lives of those “without clout.” The America (and the Vineyard) we cherish is a place where we care for each other.
The president’s views are supported by the vast majority of American people. In a newly-released Washington Post-ABC poll, almost three-quarters of Americans are in favor of his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and 54 percent support him strongly. The proposal is supported by majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent). Americans want to maintain those programs that care for them and others. They oppose cutting spending on Medicare (78 percent) and on Medicaid (68 percent).
If you agree with your fellow Americans, you need to make yourself heard. Let the president, our senators, Kerry and Brown, and our Representative Keating know how you feel. It is our future they are talking about in Washington.