Across the country, nearly fifteen million Americans live under the poverty line as men, women and children are going to bed hungry every night. When asked how to stop this epidemic you will get a variety of answers from politicians coast to coast. The answer that is most alarming however, comes from those in the Republican party.
Whether it's candidates running for president or small town mayors, the same rhetoric is being said. Shouts of "less regulation" and "lower taxes" are the two main ingredients in the Republican plan to get Americans back to work and put money into their pockets. The problem with this rhetoric is that not only will it not work, it hasn't work in the past and was the driving force of the wealth gap we currently have in our country.
The income gap in the United States has widened over the last three decades do to failed economic polices primary placed by Republican presidents. It started in 1980 when Ronald Reagan cut the top tax rate from 70% down to 28% by the time he left office after the 1988 election. The economy was starting to stabilize during President Clinton's time in office, but when George W. Bush was elected, the American economic system began to collapse again. George Bush took the United States into two wars that were not paid for, gave his surplus away in the form of tax breaks that benefited the wealthiest Americans and created a Medicare Part D plan that was also unfunded. President Obama has tried to implement polices that could help the country, but many have been watered down by a Republican controlled House of Representatives.
According to research done by the non-partisan CBO (Congressional Budget Office), income inequality has widened at a record pace since Reagan took office in 1980.
275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,
65 percent for the next 19 percent,
Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and
18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.
The percent of income that went to higher-income households rose, while the share going to lower-income households fell dramatically.
The top fifth of the population saw a 10-percentage-point increase in their share of after-tax income.
Most of that growth went to the top 1 percent of the population.
All other groups saw their shares decline by 2 to 3 percentage points.
What can we do as Americans that could help reverse the course of economic collapse? Until President Obama has reasonable members of congress to work with, this problem won't get any better in the years to come, only worse.