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Patriotism, taxes and Trump

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

They're not doing this out of love of America. They're doing it out of love of money.

How do you think they got so wealthy in the first place?

As more of the nation's wealth has shifted to the top over the past three decades, major beneficiaries have poured some of it into politics -- buying themselves tax cuts, special subsidies, bailouts, lenient antitrust enforcement, favorable bankruptcy rules, extended intellectual property protection, and other laws that add to their wealth.

All of which have given them more clout to get additional legal changes that enlarge their wealth even more.

Forty years ago, the estate tax was paid by 139,000 estates, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. By 2000, it was paid by 52,000. This year it will be paid by just 5,500 estates. Under the House tax plan, it will be eliminated altogether.

Why do Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of every other advanced economy? Because Big Pharma has altered the laws in its favor. Why do we pay more for internet service than most other nations? Big cable's political clout. Why can payday lenders get away with payday robbery? The political heft of big banks.

 

Multiply these examples across the economy and you get a huge hidden upward redistribution from the paychecks of average working people and the poor to top executives and investors. (I explain this in detail in the documentary "Saving Capitalism," airing next week on Netflix.)

All of this is terrible for the American economy.

More and better jobs depend on increasing demand for goods and services. This must come from the middle class and poor, because the rich spend a far smaller share of their after-tax income.

Yet the middle class and poor have steadily lost purchasing power. Partly as a result, a relatively low share of the nation's working-age population is employed today, and the wages of the typical worker have been stuck in the mud.

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