Today’s New York Times has a really good picture of what’s happened to America’s economy over the past 50 years.
Please take a few minutes to look at it, and pay particular attention to what’s happened since the Bush tax cuts started going into effect in 2001.
- Corporate profits are at their highest level ever. After-tax corporate profits were 5% when the Bush tax cuts started taking effect — now they’re at 9.7%.
- Wages are at their lowest level level ever. When the Bush tax cuts started taking effect, 46.7% of the gross domestic product was paid to workers as wages — now it’s 42.6%.
- Corporate taxes are at almost-record lows. Corporations paid 30% of their profits as taxes, when the Bush tax cuts started taking effect — now they pay 21.6%.
- Personal taxes have also dropped. Taking all taxpayers together (the 1% as well as the rest of us), individuals paid 17.8% of their incomes as taxes when the Bush tax cuts started taking effect — now, it’s 14.1%.
Remember, the Bush tax cuts were supposed to be temporary. They were supposed to “stimulate the economy” and then expire in 2011.
Instead, the Republicans in Congress have used one fiscal crisis after another to keep most of those tax cuts in place.
And now they’re talking as if those Bush-era tax rates are a ceiling, not a floor. (Read “Corporate Tax Cuts are almost twice the Sequester cuts” here. Read about the $161 billion annual cost of the dividend and capital gains tax cuts here.)
Republicans in Congress keep agitating about the federal debt — but they’re not willing to raise revenues by returning to historical tax levels. No, the GOP keeps insisting that the only way to address the debt is by cutting “entitlements”.
Let’s use real words, here, so everyone knows what the choice comes down to. Translated from GOP-speak, “entitlements” are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (Remember, you have paid into the Social Security and Medicare trust funds with every paycheck, for as long as you’ve been working.)
So here’s the choice:
- Congress can continue to let the federal debt grow.
- Congress can return taxes to historical levels.
- Congress can cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Congress is going to be making this choice over the next two and a half months. The current federal budget expires on September 30th — about the same time that the federal government will hit the debt limit (again).
Go back and look at those New York Times “what happened to the economy” charts again.
Don’t you think it’s time to finally end the Bush tax cuts?