We're Tumbling Over an Inequality Cliff

Colorlines' Imara Jones argues that we've wasted precious political and economic energy over the past eight weeks to produce a policy that does too little, does it too late and doesn't fix underlying fiscal or economic issues.

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House Speaker John Boehner

Colorlines' Imara Jones argues that we've wasted precious political and economic energy over the past eight weeks to produce a policy that does too little, does it too late and doesn't fix underlying fiscal or economic issues.

By shifting the definition of who is rich, the "fiscal cliff" deal passed by the Congress this week extends many of the notions that have made the United States the most economically unfair it has been in almost 50 years.

At first blush, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, as it's officially known, makes a lot of progress on the changes required to bring racial and economic fairness to America's tax code. For the first time in almost 20 years, tax rates on the wealthy will rise. The estate tax on inheritances over $5 million will go up. The capital gains tax, which is the cornerstone of preserving the wealth of the super rich, will edge upward. These are all all positive developments.

But the trouble is not in the top line of the deal, it's in the details.

By exempting all incomes up to $400,000 from key tax hikes, the American Taxpayer Relief Act treats many of the rich as if they were working poor. Under it, a person earning $20,000 and another earning up to 20 times this amount will see their tax bills remain the same. This is a totally bizarre policy assertion, but the absurdity doesn't end there.

Read Imara Jones' entire piece at Colorlines.

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