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Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is a law professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans.

April 7th, 2011 11:32 AM

Robin Hood in Reverse in US: Seven Examples

The rich have been getting richer and the poor and middle have been getting poorer in the US recently.  Here are seven examples that show how the US is going through Robin Hood in Reverse.

Between 1948 and 1979, the richest 10 percent of families in the US claimed 33 percent of average income growth.  Between 2000 and 2007, the richest 10 percent claimed a full 100 percent of average income growth in the US, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Business taxes were cut from 46 to 34 percent 25 years ago, according to Pro Publica. But today 115 of the big 500 companies listed on Standard and Poor’s Stock Index paid federal and other taxes of less than 20 percent over the last 5 years according to David Leonhardt of the New York Times.

General Electric’s tax rate for last year was 7 percent according to Pro Publica.

The top 5 percent US households claim 63 percent of the entire country’s wealth.  The bottom 80 percent hold just 13% of the growth, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Last year, John Paulson, a hedge fund manager “earned” $4.9 billion, according to the New York Times.  Ten years ago it took 25 such managers to collectively earn that much.  Last year the top 25 hedge fund managers pocketed (a much better word) a total of $22 billion.  It would take over 440,000 people each earning $50,000 a year to match that amount.

A federal development program intended to help poor communities, the New Market Tax Credit, instead funnels up to ten billion taxpayer dollars to big corporations like JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs and Prudential to build luxury hotels, office buildings and a car museum.  Bloomberg Markets Magazine pointed to the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago which was renovated for $116 million.  Prudential got $15.6 million in tax credit from the US Treasury for helping fund the project because the hotel was in a census zone that included two colleges which housed a lot of lower income students.

According to the Financial Times, there are now more people living in poverty in the US than at any time in the last 50 years.  Foreclosure filings were nearly 4 million in 2010, up 23 percent since 2008 according to RealtyTrac.

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