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by Tula Connell, Aug 20, 2010

Source: CBO, OMB  

A majority of the American public thinks Bush’s tax cuts should continue for families that make less than $250,000 a year but should rise to the previous level for those making more than that amount, according to a new CNN poll. Some 51 percent say the tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, should end for the rich.

Wise. Because as Dave Dayen points out, George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are thought to cost $830 billion over 10 years, adding massively to the nation’s budget deficit. Overall,

it’s generally considered that extending all the tax cuts would increase the deficit by $3.1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is among those calling for an end to Bush’s tax cut for the rich, noting it has been a “huge windfall for the wealthy. About 40 percent of its benefits went to the tiny sliver of Americans earning over $500,000.”

A final reason for allowing the Bush tax cut to expire for people at the top is the most basic of all. Although Wall Street’s excesses were the proximate cause of the Great Recession, its fundamental cause lay in the nation’s widening inequality. For many years, most of the gains of economic growth in America have been going to the top—leaving the nation’s vast middle class with a shrinking portion of total income. (In the 1970s, the top 1 percent received 8 to 9 percent of total income, but thereafter income concentrated so rapidly that by 2007 the top received 23.5 percent of the total.)

The only way most Americans could continue to buy most of what they produced was by borrowing. But now that the debt bubble has burst—as it inevitably would—the underlying problem has reemerged.

Extending the tax cuts for the rich would exacerbate the already massive income gap between the rich and the rest of us, and so, to end with Reich:

Why make it worse?

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