August 19, 2016 – The middle class is getting crushed. But there is hope. The most common argument about the middle class destruction is the declining or stagnant income, which is true. However, the main culprits are the costs of healthcare, education, and housing that have increased at a much higher rate, making it impossible for an average American family to attain a middle-class lifestyle (see chart below). Furthermore, the tax policies have exacerbated the problem by creating after-tax income and wealth inequality, favoring the non-working income taxed at a lower rate than the working income. Despite the doom and gloom about the middle class making headlines, there are three major forces working together—women, millennials, and technology, which provide hope for the future.
Something that Washington does not want you to know about and hopes that nobody else will discuss during the minimum-wage debate is take-home pay after taxes for low-wage earners. Washington claims that Americans should be paid living wages so that they can live a decent life. However, it is not willing to give up its share of the booty that it would collect from the same low-wage earners it claims to help.
For example, the federal government will collect at least 15 percent of the increased income from those low-wage earners through payroll tax. In other words, if the minimum wage goes up by a dollar, the federal government will take away, directly or indirectly, at least 15 cents of that additional dollar from the working poor.
Asking large corporations, which are in business to make money, to pay additional wages is like asking them to be saints. Government mandates do not have a major impact on large corporations, since they will figure out a way around them. After all, they can rent lawmakers; one former senator famously declared, “My vote can’t be bought, but it can be rented.” On the other hand, politicians do not pay anything from their pockets either. They will just give the money to one group and take it from another, but not from the special-interest groups that finance their campaigns. (more…)
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is one half of the legislative duo who recently introduced a bill designed to ease the pain of repaying college costs by bringing in Wall Street. Yet, this is another typical Beltway response — treat the symptom with a legislative Band Aid when what is needed is a major surgery on the entire structure of higher education to cut the exorbitant cost of college. Until we address the root cause of the problem, students will continue to graduate with big debts that not only burden them, but create a drag on the economy as a whole, as I explained in my previous blog.
Financial bailouts seem to have become a favorite policy of the U.S. government. Banks, insurance companies, the auto industry, the solar industry — all have been major beneficiaries of Uncle Sam’s largesse. Moreover, Congress is busy giving out money we don’t have to Ukraine, Egypt and others instead of taking care of problems at home. One may not agree with how or why every billion-dollar handout takes place, but if we’re going to come to the rescue of big business, or even other countries, why not extend a similar helping hand to our children? I’m talking about millions of college graduates saddled with the debt they had to pile up to graduate from college.
Friday’s unemployment figures of 7%, while perhaps slightly more cheerful than expected, still mean that roughly 11 million people are out of work and that the U.S. economic recovery remains stubbornly sluggish. That’s why it is truly the season to take the long-overdue step – remarkably a simple step, really — that would bring over $1.5 trillion in offshore corporate profits home. By removing the Scrooge-like obstacles embedded in the tax code, this exiled cash could be fueling our sputtering American economy instead of creating jobs and investments in China or Vietnam by American multinational corporations.