Obama’s “Class Warfare” and the Middle Class

income disparity

One of the more ironic aspects of today’s political debate is the way Republicans use the “class warfare” card in an attempt to avoid debating the manner in which their policies have gutted the middle class, driven and trapped more people into poverty, and simply made the wealthy even wealthier and created a larger gap between them and the rest of us.

Caution: DISCUSSING this trend below is “Class Warfare”

Wealth inequality - richest 1 percent

This was a bit more excusable before the data above and below was available.  After all, Republicans would often claim that it was the Democratic social safety net that “trapped people into poverty.”  But the data shows that countries with stronger social safety nets have higher, not lower income mobility.  It was claimed that an increasing income disparity was simply a reality that industrialized nations had to face in the age of globalization.  But we can see that other industrialized nations haven’t followed the same path, and that we now have the highest disparity of income among OECD countries.  We’ve been told that lower taxes on corporations and the rich will trickle down onto the rest of us as it helps promote job growth.  In reality, we have seen slower job growth, no increase in the rate of growth in GDP, and a coagulation of wealth at the top, while the middle and lower earners were mork more and more hours for a shrinking pice of the pie.

These are real policies that have had real consequences.  Republicans only want to push this envelope further, and when the aforementioned effects are mentioned, their standard response is to accuse the messenger of class warfare, class envy, a dependence on government, etc.  Having said this, I imagine this applies more to the dyed in the wool Republicans and not so much to those with an open mind.  But it seems to me that “class warfare” began over 30 years ago with the policies mentioned above, not with the mere reporting of facts thereof.

“This is not class warfare.  It’s Math.”
– Barack Obama

Top Marginal Tax Rates, Corporate Tax Rates and Capital Gains Taxes have all been drastically reduced over the last 30+ years

Tax-Rates-Class-Warfare

More of the wealth has simply coagulated at the top

Taxes top 1 percent and wealth disparity

Wealth inequality - richest 1 percent

 

CEO to Worker pay Ratio

The top marginal tax rates and GDP growth shows no relationship between tax cuts on the rich and GDP growth

top marginal tax rates and gdp

The capitals gains tax rates and GDP growth shows no relationship between tax cuts on capital gains (where the super wealthy generally make their money) and any increase in the rate of GDP growth

capital gains taxes and growth

Investment appears to grow at the same rate regardless of capital gains tax rates

Tax Cuts vs Tax Hikes and investment

The middle class we know (or knew) actually came about during the New Deal and has been gradually eroded as the US adopted a faulty “trickle down economics” approach.

Middle class and Obama

This disparity in wealth is specific to the US, which now has the greatest income disparity of all OECD countries

wealth disparity across countries - US Canada France Sweden

Lowered corporate taxes have resulted in increased corporate profits and no acceleration in job growth.
This is especially important to keep in mind when Republicans claim that corporations aren’t hiring because it’s too ‘costly’ to hire.  The real problem is all of the lost buying power the middle class has undergone; this has made a sustained recovery that much more difficult due to depressed demand. 

corporate profits class warfare

The US also has less social mobility than many of its western peers (who in fact have stronger social safety nets).

economic-mobility-us vs europe

social safety net - united states vs europe

To add insult to injury: It turns out that Low income hinders college attendance for even the highest achieving students

This is why it’s important to have programs that help place low income students on more equal footing with higher income counterparts.  Low scoring students from high income households are more likely to complete college than high scoring students from low income households (the scoring comes from standardized tests given across the survey population).

Low income hinders college attendance for even the highest achieving students

On the other hand, the US population believes that social mobility is much higher  than their peers in other countries(despite having lower social mobility then their peers).

Paul Krugman discusses the history of the middle class

 

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