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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest