Tags: capitalism, class, government/the state, inequality, media, political economy, austerity, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: In this clip from The Daily Show, John Stewart offers commentary on the proposal by President Obama to increase taxes on the top two percent of income earners in order to raise $700 billion over 10 years, a measure intended to help pay down the federal government's deficit. Revenue can be generated through tax increases just as readily as it can be generated through spending cuts on public services; yet the discussion has remained largely transfixed on spending cuts. As discussed in an earlier post, while taxing is a mechanism capable of compelling the richest Americans to contribute to paying down the national debt, cuts to public spending disproportionately affect people at the lower end of the income distribution, thus making the debate centrally about class politics. As Stewart shows with his inimitable wit, when conservative commentators finally take up the discussion of taxation, they tend to emphasize the need to increase taxes on the poor because, as one commentator put it, "they are absolutely on a free ride." Here Stewart points to published data in a Business Insider article, which shows that the bottom 50 percent of Americans own only 2.5 percent of the nation's wealth. This small sliver of wealth amounts to $1.45 trillion. Half of this amount is of course $700 billion, leading him to the laughable conclusion that the bottom 50% of Americans could only pay off the $700 billion by giving away half of everything they own. The clip works nicely as a way to demonstrate the way class politics are a central feature of the current wrangling about how to pay down the government budget deficit.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
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