As the debate over what to do with Bush’s tax cuts for the rich drags on in Congress, Forbes has released its annual list of America’s 400 richest people. The richest man in hip-hop, Jay-Z, graces the cover with the second richest man in all of America, Warren Buffet. Overall, the total net worth of the 400 “rose to an estimated $.37 trillion in 2010, up 8 percent from 2009.”
Pat Garofalo at Think Progress uses the news to take aim at one of the loudest proponents of the Bush era’s tax cuts for the wealthy. Sen. James Inhofe advocates spending $830 billion over the next decade to extend tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans, and he’s annoyed at anyone who disagrees:
“It’s a continuation of class warfare. Nothing’s changed,” the Oklahoma republican told reporters this week. “They try to play to the numbers, making everybody think they are middle class and that the superrich are getting richer.” Inhofe specifically rejects claims that extending the tax cuts automatically would add to the deficit.
As Garofalo points out, this year’s list points out that despite Inhofe’s whining, the rich are getting richer. But it’s much more complicated than it seems:
Of course, allowing the high-end Bush tax cuts to expire would affect people making far, far less money than those on the Forbes 400 list. But those affected are still in the richest two percent of American households, and 80 percent of the cost of extending the cuts would go to millionaires. And as The Wonk Room explains, income inequality is the worst it has been since 1928, with the top one percent of households earning an increasingly larger share of the country’s income. But maybe Inhofe is able to square all this by convincing himself that tax cuts don’t add to the deficit, and thus can be given to anyone whenever he wants, for free.