Today, as Occupy Wall Street protests continue to sweep across the nation, the Center for American Progress released a column examining the valid grievances of the 99 percent and the ways in which this growing movement is giving voice to their concerns. The column outlines five chief concerns of the Occupy Wall Street protesters:
- Rising income inequality. The richest 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the country’s wealth, own 50 percent of U.S.-owned stocks and bonds, and earn 24 percent of total income. The top 1 percent earn more than the bottom 40 percent of the population.
- Shrinking income mobility. A majority of Americans no longer believe that through hard work and education, higher incomes are within reach. The United States now lags behind other developed countries such Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden when it comes to economic mobility.
- A rigged tax code. The effective tax rates paid by millionaires declined from about 31 percent in 1995 to about 22 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, the bottom 99 percent are asked to help reduce a federal budget deficit exacerbated by the reckless speculation of millionaires.
- A rigged democracy. The rich can afford to amplify their voices in the halls of power though campaign donations, lobbyists, and corporations.
- An assault on fundamental protections. The bottom 99 percent continue to face assaults on the fundamental protections they have long counted on, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Gadi Dechter, author of the column and Associate Director of Government Reform at the Center for American Progress, stated, “Americans do not begrudge the rich their riches but they do resent an uneven playing field. This is the chief complaint that unites and animates the Occupy Wall Street protesters. It’s a legitimate gripe, and with Wall Street bonus season just around the corner, it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.
To speak to a CAP expert about the Occupy Wall Street protests, contact Katie Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.243.8616.
Related resources from the Center for American Progress: