Richest Americans' Income Doubled as Tax Rate Slashed
Most in Congress Mostly Invested in the Sector They Most Bail Out
As the rich get richer, a consumer advocate offers her advice. We trim, blend, and append four 2009 articles from: (1) the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Jan 29, on lobbying, power players, and politician worth; (2) Reuters, Jan 30, on Exxon by Jad Mouawad; (3) Bloomberg, Jan 30, on the rich by Ryan J. Donmoyer; and (4) The Survive and Thrive Boomers Guide, Jan 19, on a Citizens Dividend by Rita R. Robison, columnist for The (Tacoma, Washington) News Tribune who won First Place for Columns from the Washington Press Association and First Place for Consumer Articles from the Eastern Washington Society of Professional Journalists; her website shares information to help you get what you want in life.
by CRP, by Mouawad, by Donmoyer, and by Robison
Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy
Special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008, more than any other year on record -- a 13.7% increase from 2007. That's more than $17 million for every day Congress was in session.
Power Players: The Money Behind the Men Who Control the Money
Special interests give money to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee; and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee. All three are popular targets for money from FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate).
Wealthy Freshmen Increase Congressional Net Worth
The new crop of lawmakers are worth $1 million more than the average incumbent. Their investments look a lot like those of returning members, primarily wrapped up in FIRE, the sector they’re bailing out the most.
JJS: One special interest benefits from lack of Congressional oversight regarding royalties, something those behemoths keep neglecting to pay.
Despite sliding profits in Q4, Exxon sets record for 2008
Exxon Mobil, the largest publicly traded oil company in the world, reported its profit fell 33% in the fourth quarter of 2008 yet still set a record as the most-profitable US corporation, garnering $45.2 billion, up from $40.6 billion in 2007.
Oil prices have dropped more than 70% since peaking at $147.27 a barrel in July, its steepest-ever collapse. Exxon is weathering the drop in oil prices better than its rivals. Chevron posted a small rise in profit. Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips reported large quarterly losses.
Exxon’s spending on exploration, the heart of its business, rose 25%, to $26.1 billion, last year. Other companies are deferring expensive projects that have become unprofitable at today's low oil prices. Around $100 billion in projects, mostly outside of OPEC, have been delayed or canceled over the past year.
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said the company, sitting on nearly $40 billion in cash that could enable it to make acquisitions, may actually increase its investments by 20% this year.
Exxon gave back $40.1 billion to its shareholders in 2008, up 12% from 2007.
JJS: The few who get the value of oil and the worth of Earth in general on one hand also catch tax breaks with the other.
Richest Americans’ Income Doubled as Tax Rate Slashed
The average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2% from 2001 to 2006, and their average income doubled to $263.3 million.
The 17.2% rate in 2006 was the lowest since the IRS began tracking the 400 largest taxpayers in 1992.
The drop from 2001’s tax rate of 22.9% was due largely to ex-President Bush’s push to cut tax rates on most capital gains to 15% in 2003.
Capital gains made up 63% of the richest 400 Americans’ adjusted gross income in 2006, or a combined $66.1 billion. In all, the 400 wealthiest Americans reported a combined $105.3 billion of adjusted gross income in 2006.
The population of the top 400 income-earners has fluctuated over the 15 years the agency has tracked it. Some 3,305 different taxpayers have been included at least once. Only 27% have appeared more than once on the list, and only about 15% have been on it more than twice.
During the presidential campaign Obama pledged to increase the rate to 20% for families making more than $250,000 and eliminate it for small businesses.
The richest 400 Americans collectively paid $18.1 billion in taxes in 2006, the highest in the 15-year period and 1.77% of all income taxes paid in the United States; on an inflation-adjusted basis, the dollar amount was the highest since 2000.
JJS: Does taxing the rich make sense? If you don’t want them to have the money, why give it to them in the first place? Why let just a few corral our spending for land and resources and EM spectrum and government-granted privileges like corporate charters, banking charters, utility franchises, etc? Charging full value for those pieces of paper, everything from deeds to patents, would lower the income ceiling. Sharing the proceeds would raise the income floor.
Martin Luther King advocated for a guaranteed income for all
Citizens Dividend, the Web site where I found the information on King's book, describes how a guaranteed income for all would work. It suggests funding guaranteed incomes not by getting money from producers and taxpayers, but by using revenue that wasn't produced in the free-market portion of the economy -- from monopolies, which are government-granted privileges.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
U.S. Election Will Cost $5.3 Billion, Center Predicts
This period looks a lot like 1929-32
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