Public spending must support everyone, not just the rich

Written on the occasion of Biden’s inauguration:

“Americans occupy increasingly separate economic spheres. Each year, more Americans struggle to afford housing, access quality education, pay for health care, and retire above poverty. A majority of Americans lack enough savings to weather a short spell of unemployment or a costly car repair. Our schools are more economically and racially segregated now than in the 1950s. Gaps in access to the Internet, paid sick leave, remote work, and health insurance have been ruthlessly exploited by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of public spending — especially tax expenditures — benefits households in the top 20%, who hold nearly 90% of the nation’s wealth. Democrats have perpetuated this distortion; Biden’s tax pledge defines “middle class” as households earning up to $400,000 — the top 1.8% of taxpayers. Services on which most Americans rely — mass transportation, unemployment insurance, public schools, Social Security — have been steadily undermined with little fanfare. Anti-poverty policies do just enough to keep people from the brink. Wealth begets wealth, blessed by the federal tax code.

If we are to sustain a meaningful democracy, the Democrats need a compelling campaign to fix our public spending so that it supports the majority of Americans on whose backs the economy has been resting.”

From Berkeley News, January 22, 2021: Berkeley scholars: Here’s what Biden should accomplish right away