Over the past fifty years, the share of income going to the top 5% of households in the U.S. has grown from 16% to 23%. Today, the bottom 80% of households bring in less than half of the nation's total income. The wealthy have been getting steadily wealthier while the rest our nation's households have lost economic ground. This trend, if left uncorrected, will continue to tear at our already frayed democracy.
There is no magic bullet for correcting our income inequality problem. But there are a series of practical steps we can take to get us on a track toward a more egalitarian society. Those steps include:
Raising the minimum wage. An increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour would benefit more than 30 million workers and cut poverty among working families by more than half. Additionally, because low wage workers would spend most of their increased earnings, the higher wages would stimulate the economy, generating greater business activity and job growth.
Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC). In addition improving economic security for millions of families, the ETIC promotes work and helps to fuel the economy.
Implementing appropriate tax reform measures. Making the capital gains tax rates commensurate with income tax and payroll tax rates help 'level the playing field' so that the wealthy pay the same, progressive tax rate as everyone else.
Increasing investments in education. Providing better education opportunities for poor and middleclass families improves their opportunities for better paying jogs.
Helping to build financial assets for more working and middleclass households. Home ownership provides a major opportunity for building wealth. Lending policies should be adjusted to provide first-time home buyers the opportunity to invest in a home on affordable terms.