Kristof: Is America a Banana Republic?

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Via Political Wire:

Nicholas Kristof: “The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.”

“C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.”

In their first month controlling the U.S. House, Republican Congressmen are going to attempt to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those CEOs and the rest of the richest Americans among us. This would keep the federal deficit expanding and be a terrible thing for the American economy and the very fabric of our society.

In a tough economy, I don’t have a problem with extending those lower tax rates for the working class and middle class. But extending them for the richest of the rich, those who are still doing just fine despite the Great Recession? Sorry, that cannot stand. We need to be calling our Senators now to make sure they understand why this would be such a disastrous way to go, and get their commitment to oppose legislation that extends the party for the super-rich any longer.