Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:31 AM
cal04 (39,114 posts)
Robert Reich:Today, an Anniversary of America’s First Progressive Revolution
Exactly a century ago, on February 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, authorizing a federal income tax. Congress turned it into a graduated tax, based on “capacity to pay.”
It was among the signal victories of the progressive movement — the first constitutional amendment in 40 years (the first 10 had been included in the Bill of Rights, the 11th and 12th in 1789 and 1804, and three others in consequence of the Civil War), reflecting a great political transformation in America.
A progressive backlash against concentrated wealth and power occurred a century ago in America. In the 1880s and 1890s such a movement seemed improbable if not impossible. Only idealists and dreamers thought the nation had the political will to reform itself, let alone enact a constitutional amendment of such importance — analogous, today, to an amendment reversing “Citizens United v. FEC” and limiting the flow of big money into politics.
But it did happen. And it will happen again.
4 replies, 711 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Robert Reich:Today, an Anniversary of America’s First Progressive Revolution (Original post)
Response to cal04 (Original post)
Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:06 PM
hfojvt (35,654 posts)
2. too bad we have been losing the fight over the last 33 years to keep it
$2 trillion in income tax cuts for the top 1% between 1986 and 2006. Another $2.4 trillion for the top 20% over the next decade.
Here's what I started the day reading.
“For the vast majority of people who are wealthy, the fear factor of the federal estate tax is gone, "
Just another victory for they the wealthy over we the people.
Give us another twenty years, another Clinton Presidency and they will be able to write.
“For the vast majority of people who are wealthy, the fear factor of the federal income tax is gone, "
If they cannot already write that since the Reagan Revolution, but since Clinton did so in 1992, now BOTH parties have embraced Reaganomics.
Response to cal04 (Original post)
Sun Feb 3, 2013, 05:19 PM
pampango (19,290 posts)
4. The Hidden Progressive History of Income Tax (when it replaced tariffs as a revenue source)
The income tax was the most popular economic justice movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. This truly grassroots movement forced politicians to act in order to stay in office, leading to the 16th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913. That’s right, the income tax was so popular that the nation passed a constitutional amendment so that the right-wing Supreme Court couldn’t overturn it.
Income and Tax Inequality in the Late 19th Century
Everyday Americans hated the tax system of the Gilded Age. The federal government gathered taxes in two ways. First, it placed high tariff rates on imports. These import taxes protected American industries from competition. This allowed companies to charge high prices on products that the working class needed to survive while also protecting the monopolies that controlled their everyday lives. Second, the government had high excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol, two products used heavily by the American working class.
These forms of indirect taxes meant that almost the entirety of federal tax revenue came from the poor while the rich paid virtually nothing. This spawned enormous outrage. The poor had a model in creating an income tax—President Abraham Lincoln, who instituted the nation’s first income tax to pay for the Civil War. Lincoln’s Revenue Act of 1861 created a graduated tax on everyone who made at least $800 a year, allowing him to pay for the war. Although a grand success, Republicans pulled away from it as they backed off of racial equality in the late 1860s and it was overturned in 1872.
At first, Americans did not protest much against the end of the income tax, but with skyrocketing income inequality of the Gilded Age, grassroots movements sprung up to find solutions. Many Americans were attracted to simple one-size-fits-all ideas like Henry George’s Single Tax, intended to pay for all government expenditures by taxes on land transactions that supporters also hoped would draw urban dwellers back to the farms.
It is interesting that 100 years ago reducing tariffs and replacing the lost revenue with income taxes was considered a progressive achievement.