From humble beginnings to a seat in the United States Senate, Elizabeth Warren has never hesitated to jump into the fray to fight for the middle class. She was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Protection Agency. In the Senate she’s fighting for an increase in the minimum wage, student loan reform, equal pay for equal work, transparency and accountability on the part of banks and other financial institutions.
Warren believes passionately that those who oppose government are being misled. “A lot of (the talk about the ongoing battle over tax policy in America) is couched in ‘big government vs. little government’ or ‘pro-business vs. anti-business,” she writes. “But I think most of that is a deliberate distraction so people don’t see the real battle. The critical question is: Who pays? Does everyone pay, or just the little guys?” It’s the little guys, she says, who are carrying the water for big corporations and the richest of the rich.
The army of lobbyists in Washington, Warren argues, are there to make sure any changes in the tax code ultimately benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class.
The fact that the rich pay 40% of all taxes is not an argument for the rich. Rather, it serves to remind us of how incredibly rich they are. Stunningly rich. Koch brothers rich. Because these titans of industry and leisure earn the vast majority of their income from investments (think about Mitt Romney and his 13% tax rate), they pay long term capital gains rates of 15%. Small business owners who earn their money through their labors pay 25 – 35 – 39%. That is the terrible truth of what’s happening today. Business owners and the middle class are picking up the tab for the Walton family, owners of one of the largest corporations in the world.
Warren decries the waning influence of unions in America. “Unions … helped build American’s middle class,” she says. “They fought for better wages and reasonable hours. They fought for safer factories. They fought for pensions and retirement security. They fought for health care coverage. And every one of those benefits spread to other workers—union and non-union—which made the whole middle class stronger and more secure. And when the squeeze was on, unions showed up to fight for Social Security, for Medicare, for a higher minimum wage, for equal pay for women, and, to my great delight, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They fought for the values that keep us strong.”
It is nearly impossible for anyone today to save enough money for their retirement when all their income is W-2 income. Many of them end up paying higher taxes than Warren Buffet famously talked about: his rate was less than that of his secretary. His next sentence should have been—she’s paying taxes I should be paying.
These are some of the issues Elizabeth Warren talks about in her book, and is fighting to change. It is a book everyone who cares about what is happening in our country should read.
This woman, Elizabeth Warren, may be our best hope for change in Washington.