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'Up' Panel On The Real Crisis Of Income Disparity And Poverty

Thank goodness there is at least one of these talking head shows on Sundays where Republican talking points are pushed back against and where it's not just a bunch of millionaire pundits talking about how we need to inflict pain on our senior citizens and raise the Medicare age in order to appease the GOP during these deficit negotiations, and that show is Up With Chris Hayes.
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Thank goodness there is at least one of these talking head shows on Sundays where Republican talking points are pushed back and where it's not just a bunch of millionaire pundits talking about how we need to inflict pain on our senior citizens, and raise the Medicare age in order to appease the GOP during these deficit negotiations. That show is Up With Chris Hayes.

While discussing the Republicans' absolute refusal to raise taxes, their dire warnings about the economy collapsing when Bill Clinton raised taxes, guest host Steve Kornacki asked former Romney advisor Avik Roy how he reconciled that with the similar rhetoric we're hearing from Republicans today. Roy argued that things are different now because of the “Obama levels of spending” and that the rich today are somehow shouldering way too much of the tax burden, therefore we're going to have to raise everyone's taxes in order to balance the budget.

Here's some of the response he got from the rest of the panel.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: The average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans has fallen back to the level of 1966 when Johnson was president, and the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent have gone in today's dollars from 4 million to 22 million. In 2010, the first year of the recovery, 37 percent of all of the increased income in the entire country went to 15,600 households.

We have created a privatized system to redistribute upwards and the reason people at the top are sharing a larger share of the income taxes because their incomes are growing at this enormous rate, but their burden is falling. And to suggest we don't need to raise more revenue by applying it to people who are a success depends on this government, on living in this society, with its rules that make it possible to make that money is just outrageous. It is arguing that we should burden the poor and help the rich.

[...]

LAURA FLANDERS: No, you're right. we have 50, 5-0 million Americans living in poverty at this point with food stamp help for many of them. We've got 9 million Americans over the age of 50 who are food insecure. One in three of us have no savings whatsoever.

I mean, you talk the Johnson years, in that period, '65 to '73 the war on poverty reduced poverty by 43 percent. We know how to do it. It works. That's what we should be talking about. We are in a crisis where we're going to see stimulus. We're going to see stimulus of poverty and hunger in this country and it's shameful. And again, going back to '63, you had more than 60 percent of Americans, I think even in1983, 60 percent of Americans had private pension plans. Now, it's under 20 percent.

So these elders that you're talking about, young people with greater unemployment than ever before. I mean, this is the stuff that we want to be talking about after the last election, children and poverty are exploding.

JOAN WALSH: And also... we need higher tax rates for the tippy top earners because everybody likes to talk about building the middle class or rebuilding the middle class. Well, the top tax rate that the middle class we in the '40s,' 50s and '60s. The top marginal rate was in the 90's. I'm not saying you should go back to that, but you can't say at 37 percent.

They followed up with more discussion on tax loopholes and deductions, who they favor, what should be done to make sure they're not upside down with whether they benefit the working class. Laura Flanders brought up the issue of a Wall Street transaction tax, which gets mentioned far too rarely. She also discussed that while everyone is pushing for cuts to Medicare and raising the age to receive benefits, none of them want to talk about defense cuts.

If you missed the show, the whole thing was worth watching. It's generally a nice break from the typical Sunday show fare and this week was no exception. Go check it out here.

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