CHICAGO - AUGUST 12: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (C) arrives at the Dirksen Federal Building while the jury deliberates in his corruption trial August 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Blagojevich has been charged with corruption while in office, including accusations of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama after Obama's November 2008 election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Someone gave Rod Blagojevich a microphone Wednesday, and he used it to condemn his successor for raising the state’s income taxes
“Pat Quinn got there, and he made a deal … that he was going to sock it to the people and solve the problems of government on the backs of the hard-working people of Illinois ... not by making government more efficient,” Blagojevich said, on the Don Wade and Roma Show.
I’m sure Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder would agree. Those are the freshman Midwestern governors whose solution to their states’ budget crises is to strip workers of collective bargaining rights and cut money for education. That is solving the problems of government on the backs of hard-working people. Raising taxes is solving the problems of government on the backs of people who’ve made their fortunes on the backs of hard-working people.
In 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected president, the top marginal tax rate was 70 percent, which was actually lower than it had been in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the heyday of the American middle class. Today, the top rate is only 35 percent. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans -- the people who pay that top rate --saw their average real income increase from $550,000 to $1.8 million. Meanwhile, wages for the bottom 90 percent have barely moved. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The uneven distribution of economic gains in recent years continues a longer-term trend that began in the late 1970s. In the three decades following World War II (1946-1976), robust economic gains were shared widely, with the incomes of the bottom 90 percent actually increasing more rapidly in percentage terms, on average, than the incomes of the top 1 percent. But in the three decades since 1976, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of households have risen only slightly, on average, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have soared.
The rich have cornered almost all the increases in the country’s wealth, and are paying lower taxes on their windfall. That’s why the government has no money. Because the federal government won’t tax the rich, Illinois had to do it. It would have been better to target the tax increase at the top 1 percent, but the Illinois Constitution prohibits. Maybe he’ll pursue a graduated income tax next.
It’s more responsible than Blagojevich’s plan.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!