In the last twenty years, most of America’s income growth has been funneled to 1 percent of the population, the ultra-rich. For 90 percent of Americans, real wages have been stagnant, while prices continue to increase. The U.S. has achieved “world leader status” on the issue of income inequality. Job creation has lagged far behind population growth, creating a situation with more people then there are jobs.
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has identified 5 issues supporting income inequality, and has proposed solutions for each issue. He has been aware income inequality as a U.S. problem for some time, and has given it a fair amount of thought. His ideas are not shallow, but thoroughly organized and well-thought out.
One particularly bright idea provides free public college and university tuition. The cost of an education has soared over the last twenty years and student loan debt has become a significant problem. Bernie has said the federal government should not be making a profit on student loans. In contrast, he plans to pay for college educations by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators. Bernie calls it a Robin Hood tax. Using a remarkably intelligent method for redistributing America’s wealth, he has proposed taking from the rich and giving to the poor, as a way of paying for their education. This is more along the lines of teaching a person to fish, rather than giving him/her a fish.
His plans include imposing a Wall Street speculation fee on investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators. In detail, the fees would be 0.5 percent on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives. It is estimated this provision could raise hundreds of billions a year, providing funding for free tuition at public colleges and universities, with additional monies left over which could be used to create millions of jobs and rebuild the middle class of this country.
Much like arguments against global warming, and complaints about President Obama, arguments against Bernie’s funding model are vague, and heavily loaded with half-truths, exaggeration, and outright deceit.
A second “bright idea” involves creating a trillion-dollar fund to pay for nearly 13 million jobs rebuilding America’s infrastructure and support for a youth jobs program. The United States’ crumbling infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and rebuilding. This idea kills two birds with one stone. This will be paid for by demanding the wealthy, and large corporations, pay their fair share in taxes. As president, Senator Sanders would stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Additionally, he would create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million.(Remember, this is inherited money. The recipients did not “earn” their inheritance.)
His third idea is more basic than bright. Raising the minimum wage is perhaps the single most basic method for redistributing the wealth of our nation. The wealthy like to say this would cause prices to go up, but in reality, the rich would simply have to live with a little bit less profit. Bernie would like to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020, and increase the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to $15 by 2023. A Pew Research Center Survey found that 73 percent of people want the federal minimum wage to be at least $10.10 an hour.
Bernie Sanders has supported equal pay for equal work. He voted for the Pay Equity Bill, and spoke out when it failed to pass, saying:
“If the U.S. Senate had 80 women rather than 80 men as it does now, this bill would pass immediately. It is absurd that women receive 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.”
His fourth idea regarding income inequality is to pay women as though they were equal to men. In the year 2015, it is astonishing to find women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work. Pay equity for women workers is a key part of Bernie’s platform for the 2016 presidential election.
The fifth idea focuses on world trade issues. Bernie wants to put an end to what he calls “Disastrous Trade Policies.” Bernie has stated our trade policies “have cost us millions of jobs.” He has been a strong opponent to the NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, and the recent TPP. These are trade polices that have caused American wages to decline and American jobs to be transferred overseas.