What a great week to be rich in America!
On Monday, President Obama compromised with the Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts, leaving no millionaires or billionaires behind.
By Thursday, a generous estate-tax exemption was heaped onto the deal, permitting wealthy couples to leave up to $10 million to their families without needing to pay a single cent in tax.
Gee, thanks, grandpa! So thoughtful of you!
Both moves are certain to further concentrate wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer very rich families, leaving the middle-class in this famously middle-class country to fight over fewer and fewer crumbs.
High executive salaries, low capital-gains rates, generous tax deductions, the natural inclination of privileged people to look after their own – they’ve all conspired to make the rich richer and leave the rest of us further behind.
And it’s not like the rich were suffering before. The government’s own statistics make that as clear as Swarovski.
As of 2007, the top 1 percent of households in America owned 34.6 percent of all privately held wealth. The next 19 percent had 50.5 percent. That’s leaves slightly less than 15 percent of wealth for 80 percent of Americans to divide.
No wonder we’re all feeling so broke. That disparity certainly hasn’t eased in the past three years as the Bush tax cuts kept pushing wealth upward. And the spread is unlikely to narrow any time soon, as the Obama version of the Bush tax cuts kicks in.
On Thursday, Democrats in Congress voted to reject the Obama-Republican compromise. “We will continue discussions with the president and our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the days ahead to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
But it was just a symbolic vote and ineffectual talk. Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House and the Senate will almost certainly pass the millionaires’ and billionaires’ tax plan.
And the rich will keep accumulating more and more of the wealth.
Pop the Dom Perignon corks! Call the tax accountants and the estate planning lawyers! Let the gilded celebration begin!
Ellis Henican is Fox News contributor and a columnist for Newsday and amNewYork. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/henican