Opinion

David Cay Johnston

The richest get richer

David Cay Johnston
Mar 15, 2012 16:18 UTC

The aftermaths of the Great Recession and the Great Depression produced sharply different changes in U.S. incomes that tell us a lot about tax and economic policy.

The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent.

In 2010, we saw the opposite as the vast majority lost ground.

National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.

The different results in 1934 and 2010 show how a major shift in federal policy hurts the vast majority and benefits the super-rich.

Beyond the 1 percent

David Cay Johnston
Oct 25, 2011 15:42 UTC

By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The U.S. tax debate tends to focus on the top 1 percent — their share of income taxes and their tax rates. Anti-tax groups encourage this focus, now embraced by the Occupy demonstrators on Wall Street and across America.

Problem is, the top 1 percent is a very misleading measure of who pays federal income taxes. It mixes doctors and billionaires, masking the taxes paid by the middle class and the affluent.

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