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Bill Moyers: We Are Living in the United States of Inequality

"A petty, narcissistic, pridefully ignorant politics has come to dominate and paralyze our government."

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BILL MOYERS: So it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that the United States collects less in taxes as a share of its economy than all but two other industrialized countries. Only Chile and Mexico collect less. Chile and Mexico. Right now a powerful group of CEO's, multi-millionaires and billionaires are calling on Congress to fix the debt. And their enablers in both parties are glad to oblige. Okay. But why not fix the debt by raising more taxes from those who can afford to pay? Close the loopholes. Shut down the tax havens. Cancel the Mitt Romney Clause Congress enacted, allowing big winners to pay a tax rate far less than their chauffeurs, nannies, and gardeners.

Instead, as we speak, our political class in Washington is attempting to fix the debt by sequestration – Washington doublespeak for bleeding services for veterans and the elderly, the sick and poor, for kids in Head Start.

Marching in lockstep beneath a banner that now stands for “Guardians of Privilege” -- GOP -- Republicans refuse to raise revenues, while Democrats have a president whose new budget contains gimmicks that could lead to cuts in Social Security. Social Security! The one universal safety net -- and a modest one at that – and yet the main source of purchasing power for millions of aging Americans. This, from a Democrat – the heir of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who pulled us to our feet when the Great Depression had America on its knees.

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: This Social Security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.

BILL MOYERS: But those were the days when our political system rallied to the defense of everyday Americans. Now a petty, narcissistic, pridefully ignorant politics has come to dominate and paralyze our government, while millions of people keep falling through the gaping hole that has turned us into the United States of Inequality.

Warren Buffett, the savviest capitalist of them all, may have written this era’s epitaph: “If there was a class war, my class won.”

Bill Moyers is the host of “Moyers & Company,” airing weekly on public television. More at: www.billmoyers.com/

 
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