Chart of the Day: The Great American Pay Freeze

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Maybe all President Obama needs to break through the GOP’s wall of opposition to ending the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich is a new sales strategy. Michael Ettlinger of the Center for American Progress has a suggestion: pitch the expiration of the cuts as a temporary pay freeze for America’s wealthiest individuals.

Here’s how the math works out, according to Ettlinger. Assuming high-end incomes continue rising at the same rate they have over the past ten years, allowing the Bush cuts to expire at the end of 2012 would have the equivalent effect of a 10-month pay freeze for the richest 1 percent:

Does that matter to the Republicans of 2011? Probably not.

But rich GOPers who are terrified by the potential long-term effects of S&P’s downgrade of the US’ credit rating should think hard about whether their party’s hardline anti-tax stanch is really in their best interests. Absent a long-term solution for plugging the deficit—and any solution short of America’s transformation into libertarian fantasyland is going to require more revenues—America’s debt will eventually be downgraded again. If that happens, the cost of borrowing money, expanding businesses, and creating jobs will spike. Do rich Republicans really want that? Probably not. In the long run, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire is about keeping the rich… rich.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate