How to Lower Income Inequality

 

My last post provides evidence that income inequality has increased more under recent Democratic presidents than under Republican presidents.  Here is a brief summary of the argument:

  • Cheap money is of greatest value to those who have access to it.
  • The effects of the Bush housing bubble (in the 2000s) were more evenly distributed than for the Clinton stock market bubble (in the 1990s) or the Obama credit bubble.
  • Two earner households are the backbone of the American middle class.
  • During the first six years of the Obama presidency, the number of two-earner households declined, the number of single-earner households rose by 2.6 million and the number of no-earner households rose by 5 million. In other words, two-thirds of the increase in the number of households under Obama is accounted for by households with no-one working. This largely accounts for the shrinking middle class and the increase in inequality.
    Capture

Another way to consider this situation is to look at the labor force participation rate which has been steadily decreasing since the year 2000.  As the above chart shows, this trend is expected to continue indefinitely in the same downward direction.  Along with a slowing increase in the productivity rate, this constrains the U.S. economy’s capacity to expand. Clearly what is needed is faster economic growth in order to create more jobs and better paying jobs.  The way to accomplish this is with:

  • Tax Reform. Lower individual and corporate tax rates for all paid for by shrinking deductions and closing loopholes. More money in the hands of the middle class will stimulate demand. More money in the hands of small business will stimulate supply.
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit. Putting more money in the pockets of low-income and marginally employed workers will encourage more of them to find work and stay in the workforce.

With all the headwinds holding the economy back, our national leaders (and would be leaders!) ought to be focusing much more attention on taking specific actions which would speed up economic growth.

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