The US is on the verge of slipping below bankrupt Greece on a world index of wealth inequality – this is the stark conclusion of research by the charity Oxfam.
At present the US is ranked 23rd in its global Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) index but is set to drop at least six places in the rankings if president Trump’s tax cutting proposals for the rich and massive cuts in social service spending are implemented.
The scale of wealth inequality in the US is already gigantic with the last figures for 2016 showing that the top mega-wealthy 1% earned on average $1.3 million a year – this is three times the amount they earned in the 1980s.
The bottom 50% of US workers earned on average $16,000 before taxes in 1980 and their income hasn’t changed in the past thirty years. Trump’s new budget proposals were described by the billionaire speculator, Warren Buffet, as ‘a huge tax cut for guys like me’ and he wasn’t exaggerating.
The richest 4,000 people in the US will get a cut in their taxes estimated at $7 billion a year while the giant US corporations will see their taxes cut from 35% to 15%. This huge sum will be paid for out of cuts to social spending by the federal government, especially cuts to health provision.
Millions of US workers and their families will lose all health care cover and millions more will see the private health insurance premiums, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, soar into the stratosphere.
Access to health care will be priced out of the reach of the vast majority of US workers in order to pay for Trump’s tax hand out to the corporations and rich. Avoidable deaths through the cuts to the US Medicare system and Obama’s Affordable Care Act, along with the free rein Trump is giving to the massive health insurance industry to price workers out of the health system, will go to pay for the profits of these corporations and in the pockets of men like Buffet.
The Oxfam report details how already these corporations profit even before Trump’s proposed cuts in their taxes. In 2012, 43.3% of US corporations paid no federal income tax. At the same time the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 is vastly below the $10.60 an hour a family needs to stay above the official federal poverty line.
Trump’s proposed budget cuts and hand outs to the already obscenely wealthy 1% and the corporations are not unique of course. Last week in Britain, the government’s official Office for Budget Responsibility issued warnings about increasing taxes on the rich and insisted that austerity cuts to wages, benefits and the NHS must be continued in perpetuity if British capitalism is to have any hope of surviving the coming economic crash.
Yesterday, the British Chamber of Commerce, the bosses’ organisation, told the Low Pay Commission that low-paid workers should have their wages restricted to inflation-only increases, in other words, frozen at the poverty levels already forced on them by the Tory austerity.
At the weekend, research from the Resolution Foundation showed that since the banking crash of 2008 the top 1% of the rich have recouped all the losses they made in the crash and are once again thriving while the other 99% are being driven into the ground.
Across the world, from the US to Britain and Europe, the working class is refusing to passively accept this as its fate and is rising up against a capitalist system that can only keep staggering on by destroying the lives of workers and their families.
This crisis has produced a revolutionary working class that is seeing the glaring inequalities of wealth as proof that capitalism worldwide is a system that is in its death agony and that the only way forward is to put it out of its misery through the victory of the world socialist revolution.
This requires the building of the WRP in Britain and revolutionary parties of the International Committee of the Fourth International in every country to lead the coming world socialist revolution to victory.