Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a letter posted to President Obama on his website that proclaims the U.S. “has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth.” Nicholas Kristoff stated in a November 2010 New York Times op-ed piece that the wealthiest one percent of Americans earn almost 24 percent of the total income, a nine percent increase from 1976.
Kristoff also stated that CEOs of the largest companies in the U.S. earned an average of 531 times more than the average worker in 2001, but in 1980 only earned 42 times more. More than four-fights of the increases in U.S. incomes went to the wealthiest one percent from 1980 to 2005.
“It is absolutely imperative, however, that as we go forward with deficit reduction we completely reject the Republican approach that demands savage cuts in desperately-needed programs for working families, the elderly, the sick, our children and the poor, while not asking the wealthiest among us to contribute one penny,” Sanders urges Obama.
The approach put forth by the current congressional Republicans consists of cutting the proverbial hell out of almost everything in government. Congressional Republicans also oppose raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, some of whom helped tank the economy.
Polls show that the majority of the American people favor raising taxes on the wealthiest. A poll released in May found that 69 percent surveyed favored raising taxes on households earning $250,000 or more. Another spring 2011 poll found that 64 percent voters favor raising taxes on households earning $250,000 or more, and only 33 percent opposed.
Sanders, in his letter, pleads with Obama to listen to the American people: “Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice.”
In December, Obama signed off on extending the Bush era tax cuts, which allowed the wealthiest in America to receive the largest tax cuts. “Please do not yield to outrageous Republican demands that would greatly increase suffering for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society,” Sanders tells Obama. “Now is the time to stand with the tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to survive economically, not with the millionaires and billionaires who have never had it so good.”