We have a growing crisis of income inequality in this country. We are at levels of income disparity that we have not seen since right before the Great Depression in 1928. Over the last 30 years, the failed GOP policies of Reaganomics and weakening regulation have led to a situation where the middle class has shrunk and the richest 1% of Americans now own 34% of our nation's wealth -- that's more than the bottom 90% of American, who own just 29% of our nation's wealth.
Now the Republicans -- the same ones who squandered our nation's surplus by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, and who engineered the policies that allowed Wall Street to drive our economy off the cliff -- are demanding sacrifice from the middle and low-income earners.
The Republicans also want to slash the bedrock safety net programs by promoting deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other vital domestic spending programs. Not only would these cuts punish those who have suffered the worst under the failed GOP policies, but they would put an additional 600,000 to 800,000 people out of work. Despite GOP cries for austerity and fiscal restraint, they continue to defend corporate subsidies like tax breaks for big oil companies and more tax breaks for the wealthiest.
Enough is enough! It's time to bring some common sense to this debate. There is a fair solution to balancing the budget without harming those who are most vulnerable. Yesterday I introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act, a bill that would create new tax brackets for the wealthiest Americans. Currently, the top tax bracket begins at $373,000 in annual income and fails to distinguish the merely "well-off," from the "super-duper rich."
By introducing new tax brackets, we ensure a basic principal of fairness: those who have benefited the most from the opportunities that our great country provides should also invest in making those opportunities a reality for all Americans.
The Fairness in Taxation Act asks the very rich to pay their fair share by enacting tax brackets for income starting at $1 million and ending with a $1 billion bracket. The new brackets would be:
•$1-10 million: 45%
•$10-20 million: 46%
•$20-100 million: 47%
•$100 million to $1 billion: 48%
•$1 billion and over: 49%
The bill would also tax capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for those taxpayers with income over $1 million. If implemented in 2011, the Fairness in Taxation Act would raise more than $78 billion, according to the Center for Tax Justice.
I ask you stand with me for fairness in taxation.