A new report from the U.S Census Bureau strengthens the argument for letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2010 for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. In 2009, according to census figures, the income gap between the nation's richest and poorest citizens reached its widest margin ever.
People making over $100,000 — the top 20 percent of Americans — pulled in 49.4 percent of all income earned in the nation. At the other end of the spectrum, folks below the federal poverty line earned just 3.4 percent of all income. The ratio of 14.5-to-1 was the largest ever, and almost double the record low ratio of 7.69-to-1 in 1968.
But the census figures don't just delineate a rich-versus-poor dichotomy. There is evidence suggesting the real dividing line pits the very rich versus everyone else.
People earning more than $180,000 — the wealthiest 5 percent — saw their income increase slightly in 2009. But there was a slight decrease for families at the $50,000 median income level, the heart of middle-class America.
Such numbers suggest we are witnessing a concentration of wealth in this nation that harkens back to the days of the 19th century robber barons. And it exceeds anything that's happening in other industrialized Western nations. When it comes to greed at the top, America is No. 1.
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