It’s official: Top 1% doubled their share of nation’s income

The Congressional Budget Office said in a new report this week what the labor movement and its allies have been saying all along: The top 1 percent have more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last 30 years.

The report, requested several years ago, comes as the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads across the country with protesters and allies in the labor movement and elsewhere condemning the growing gap in America between rich and poor.

The budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

The findings are consistent with numerous studies over the last two years by labor economists. But since these findings come from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, they could, when coupled with the popular uprising, have a major impact on debates by congressional lawmakers.

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows two thirds of the public saying wealth should be more evenly distributed. Seven in 10 Americans say the policies of congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two thirds oppose tax cuts for corporations and two thirds support increasing income taxes on millionaires and billionaires.

The poll also shows that eighty-nine percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing and 84 percent disapprove of Congress.

Interestingly, the approval rating for President Obama rose to 46 percent from significantly lower ratings last month. The poll found substantial support of the individual components of the president’s jobs bill.

The poll results also underline how completely each of the GOP presidential candidates are out of sync with public attitudes on major economic questions.

Mitt Romney’s tax plan includes a $6.6 trillion giveaway to corporations and the richest Americans. Romney’s Medicaid cuts are even more draconian than the ones proposed last year by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Minn.

Rick Perry’s 20 percent flat tax plan would not only lower income taxes on the wealthy, but would completely eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends, currently taxed at 15 percent. The Perry plan amounts to expansion of a loophole that already allows billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than middle class taxpayers.

Perry’s response, when asked this week by reporters to explain the giveaway was, “I don’t care about that.”

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would slash taxes for millionaires by an average of $487,000 each, according to an Oct.25 report by ThinkProgress.

The latest Times/CBS poll does not look good at all for Republicans.

Seventy-one percent say the GOP does not have a clear plan for creating jobs.

Only 25 percent said that lowering taxes on large corporations or repealing the entire health care reform law was a good idea. Almost all GOP lawmakers and all of their party’s presidential candidates have said they favor repeal of the health care law.

Disapproval of Congress has risen 22 percent in the poll, since Republicans took control of Congress.

The number of people saying Occupy Wall Street reflects the views of the majority of Americans far exceeds the numbers who once voiced support for the tea party.

In February, a CBS News poll found that 27 percent of the public said the views of the Tea Party reflected the sentiment of most Americans. In the current poll, 46 percent said the same of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Photo: It seems everyone and their dog is joining the fight for economic fairness. Occupy Oakland march, Oct. 22. Marilyn Bechtel/PW 



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.