If he’s given a second term, should President Obama start by reforming the tax code?

"Concerns about income inequality and fairness have become such a mainstay of our politics that they can even be felt pulsating through the Republican presidential primaries…He should thus take it as a mandate to pursue a middle-class agenda that reduces inequality and increases opportunity. And the best way to do this is to reform the tax code."

"To be sure, reforming the tax code is not enough. Strengthening the middle class will also require a positive set of policies that create more jobs with decent pay. That means supporting infrastructure by fixing our decaying roads and bridges, building faster high speed rail, and renovating and modernizing crumbling and inadequate schools. It also means hiring back thousands of teachers; ballooning class sizes because of teacher layoffs are not only hurting our economy right now, they are hurting our future competitiveness because our education system is suffering."

— Neera Tanden, "A TNR Symposium on Obama’s Second Term: Fix the Tax Code!"

Photo courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor.

Income Inequality and the Unseen Barriers to Good Health

"I tuned out her blessings and her current list of maladies until she told me about her terrible arthritis. I shouldn’t worry, she said, because between the power of prayer and WD-40, her joints were working fine. I asked her, in my halting Spanish, to repeat what she had just said, especially that bit about WD-40. "The spray stuff, we we used on the trucks, Gramma?" I asked. "El es-sprayo por los truckos?

“Yes, that’s the stuff,” she said (en español). “I just say a prayer over it and spray my knees and my elbows, and, in the name of Jesus, the heat from the WD-40 loosens my arthritis.”

"What are you now, a robot?" I yelled at her (in English). She didn’t understand me. But she laughed."

—Domingo Martinez, “Quarantined: The unseen barriers to good health.

Has the recession hurled African-Americans backwards in time?

"There came a time when, after the twin pressures of the Great Migration from the rural South to northern cities and civil rights movement of the 1960s, blacks were able to enter jobs, schools, and neighborhoods previously denied them and began the slow crawl toward closing the gap. By the turn of the twenty-first century, it had narrowed significantly—although white Americans still had a median net worth ten times that of black Americans. Then came the Great Recession, which wiped out the precarious gains that had been made and hurled African Americans back to the lowest point since economists began measuring the wealth gap three decades earlier."

—Isabel Wilkerson, “Race to the Bottom

Why everyone overestimates American equality of opportunity.

Read an excerpt from Senior Editor Timothy Noah’s upcoming book, The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, published in the March 1, 2012 issue of the magazine.

"Most of Western Europe today is both more equal in income and more econmically mobile than the United States. And it isn’t just Western Europe. Countries as varied as Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Pakistan all have higher degrees of income mobility than we do. A nation that prides itself on its lack of class rigidity has, in short, become significantly more economically rigid than many other developed countries. How did our perception of ourselves end up so far out of sync with reality?”

—Timothy Noah, “The Mobility Myth: Why everyone overestimates American equality of opportunity.


In an OWS Era, Americans Are Much More Aware of Class Tension 

It looks like Occupy Wall Street’s message has resonated even after Zuccotti Park cleared out. A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that two-thirds of the public believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between America’s rich and poor—a number that’s up 19 percentage points since 2009. According to the survey, income inequality now trumps tensions arising from race or immigration—popular answers only a few years before. 

Read more on GOOD→

Victory for Occupy Wall Street?

Governor Cuomo reached an agreement today with legislative leaders to raise taxes on New York State’s wealthiest residents as part of a deal to overhaul the tax rates.

The tentative agreement would also cut taxes for the middle class, by creating four new tax brackets and tax rates. The officials said the tax rate changes would generate $1.9 billion in annual revenue for the state.

“This would be lowest tax rate for middle class families in 58 years,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “This job-creating economic plan defies the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this state once again.”

Will other states follow suit and implement a “millionaires tax”? Is this the result of Occupy Wall Street’s focus on income inequality?

Courtesy of the New York Times.

The new issue of TNR is out! In our cover story, Doom!, John B. Judis writes,

"Today’s recession does not merely resemble the Great Depression; it is, to a real extent, a recurrence of it. It has the same unique causes and the same initial trajectory".

To read this article and more, including Timothy Noah in his TRB column debut on how those on Wall Street perceive income inequality in Brooks Brothers Bolshevism, make sure to check out the October 6th issue of The New Republic.

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