Pundits keep looking for reasons to explain the wide public support for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion disaster relief package, approved this past week without a single Republican vote of support in the Senate or House. Aside from the obvious (real economic pain and stress felt by millions of workers and thousands of businesses because of the long-lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic), there’s something else at work in the American conscience: Resentment of the continued concentration of wealth among the nation’s billionaires and millionaires and the tax cuts Republicans gave them in 2017. We’re at a tipping point with all that.
Fact: America’s 614 billionaires grew their net worth by a collective $931 billion since the state of emergency was declared in March 2020.
Fact: In 2017, Republicans passed nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy and corporations that largely ended up in the hands of billionaires. Here’s a chart from Sen. Chris Van Hollen. He does not cite a source of this information, but it tracks with most of the analyses of the 2017 tax cuts that I have read. Republicans always turn to tax cuts for the wealthiest, arguing that the benefits will trickle down to the working class. It doesn’t happen. Tax cuts do not create jobs; they mostly concentrate wealth among people who own stock, many of them overseas now, and corporate executives. Those who argue that trickle-down economic policy works have no supporting evidence, and most Americans — even, apparently, Trump supporters, according to polls — know that by now.
So, aside from being a testament to real need, public support of Biden and the Democrats on pandemic/recession relief is underpinned by the realization that the rich are way too rich and have unfairly reaped too many rewards from the government, via tax cuts, and now it’s the middle- and low-income working classes that deserve help.
In my Friday column in The Baltimore Sun, I suggest how one prominent billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, could help Baltimore with a donation of $500 million to nonprofits and social-impact developers who want to create more affordable housing in the city. Someone needs to make this pitch to him. Steal my idea and run with it. Fine by me.
(Source of graphic above: Visual Capitalists