How do we reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% that is eroding our democracy and destroying our middle class?How do we create a fair and just democracy supporting economy and government? How do we create an economy that does not betray our working people and families? How do we keep the interests of corporations and their wealthy owners and executives from being elevated above those of the people?
The United States has, by far, the highest income inequality in the developed world. The top 1% own more than the bottom 90%. From 2009 to 2014, almost 60% of all new income went to the top 1%. Our child poverty rate is higher than almost every other developed country. From 1980 to 2016, productivity increased by 87% while hourly pay increased by only 9%. This is in alarming and immoral contrast to the period of 1945-1980, during which productivity increased by 97% and was matched by an equal increase in wages of 97%. This was a time when the U.S. economy really worked for working people, creating a strong middle class. In 1970, 65% of Americans lived in middle income neighborhoods, but in 2011, only 44% did. In the 1980s, even very conservative columnist George Will acknowledged what was happening, noting “a transfer of wealth from labor to capital unprecedented in American history.” This same George Will has said for decades that “money is free speech,” and this grim opinion was made into the law of the land when our politicized Supreme Court passed Citizens United. This decision immensely undermined the democratic power of the everyday people and gave even more influence in Washington to big businesses and their lobbyists.
- We must put the brakes on and end the slide toward an oligarchy that our economy is currently experiencing. This includes breaking up the mega-corporations and too-big to-fail banks that greatly contributed to our recession, costing taxpayers greatly, and deeply hurting many families.
- Congress must continually enact campaign finance reform requiring total transparency and limiting contribution amounts until the Supreme Court sees its error and chooses the people and democracy over the power of monied interests.
- We need just trade based on requiring human/labor rights and environmental protection by our partners so that our workers can compete fairly.
- We must support our struggling small businesses--they are the heart of free enterprise and job creation in this country. (See below under Jobs for specific small business support.)
- We need more progressive taxation on the wealthy and we need to preserve inheritance taxes to reduce the concentration of wealth and the creation of a dynasty class.
- We must create a safety net for workers and families that includes adequate retraining provisions, strengthening of private sector labor organizing rights, and a fair federal minimum wage that is actually enough for families to live on.
- We must deliver stronger educations for our children to compete in our global economy and obtain good jobs.
- We need to strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit to supplement low wage earners' income. The EITC should be increased to an equivalent of $15/ hour. This will require higher progressive taxation and restoration of the corporation taxes to previous levels. It should also be noted that corporations will see a decrease in costs when universal health care is provided under Medicare for all.
- We must restore Glass-Steagall. The elimination of this legislation to benefit the financial industry was a huge mistake that contributed greatly to the 2008 recession.