It has been reported time and time again that the wealth gap between the richest and poorest Americans has been growing steadily over a long period of time. Now, a global wealth report published by the Swiss holding company Credit Suisse has confirmed our worst fears: Income inequality in the United States is at its greatest level since the Great Depression.
As the chart below shows, the division began in 1975, but really took off between 1985-1990 under the Reagan administration. Reagan adopted two well-known economic principles during his tenure, deregulation of the free market and Reaganomics — the latter being another word for supply-side or “trickle-down” economics. Note that this is the same approach that got us into the Great Depression, and was even condemned by fellow Republican George H. W. Bush as “voodoo economics.”
While the short-term prosperity did help boost Reagan’s popularity, it had the horrible effect of kicking into gear the decline of the middle class that was only accentuated by George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton’s presidency may have managed to stabilize the rising rate, but the disastrous policies of his successor ruined any progress and destroyed the budget surplus.
What’s even more disappointing, however, is how high the wealth gap has grown under President Obama’s two terms. Republican obstructionism in Congress has prevented most of his legislation from getting through, but even then his economic bills have generally adopted standard center-right policies, protecting big businesses over consumers, and giving corporations more influence over the economy; seen most clearly in the stimulus and Obamacare.
It currently stands that the richest one percent own 35.4 percent of the wealth in America. As true progressive politicians Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have repeatedly warned, we need to enact powerful changes if we’re going to turn around this problem in the United States.
h/t Young Progressive Voices, written by Red Stewart