Income Inequality in New Jersey

Originally published on PolitickerNJ. Cross-posted at DailyKos.

It comes as no surprise that income inequality in America - the divide between the wealthy and everyone else - has grown in recent years. Now we have a new report documenting the growing divide here in New Jersey.

The report "Income Inequality In New Jersey: The Growing Divide and Its Consequences," issued by Legal Services of New Jersey, shows that this terrible trend is just as bad in New Jersey as in the country - maybe worse.

Basically, the report shows the rich have gotten richer and everyone else - middle class families, working people and the economically disadvantaged - have suffered. Whatever wealth that has been generated over the past decade has gravitated to the top.

More than 75 percent of the additional income generated in New Jersey went to the top 20 percent of households, with the richest 1 percent receiving the bulk of the increase. The bottom 40 percent lost income and everyone else experienced stagnate income or minimal growth that failed to keep pace with inflationary costs.  

According to the report this growing divide has hurt the vulnerable the most, including single mothers, ethnic minorities and those with less education.

This didn't happen by itself. It wasn't an "act of nature" outside the control of people. The policies and practices of political leaders have played a significant role: the push for tax cuts for the wealthy; deregulation of the banking industry; the abuses of sub-prime mortgages; and cuts to an endless list of programs designed to help people move up the economic ladder, such as job training, college loans, child care and nutrition assistance.

This was part of the Republican agenda in Washington for too many years and now it's part of the Chris Christie agenda here in New Jersey. His budget cuts have hurt the needy and his economic policies have been designed to help the wealthy. He refuses to increase the minimum wage. He is preventing an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor - after he actually cut the program. He has handed out tax breaks to big corporations while he refuses to extend the millionaires tax. And, until Democrats forced him to back down, he wanted to give another tax break to the wealthy

Chris Christie and the Republicans are not part of the solution - they are a big part of the problem when it comes to economic opportunity for all Americans, and for all of us in New Jersey.

You can follow me on on Twitter at @SenatorBuono, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SenatorBarbaraBuono or on the web at BarbaraBuono.com

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