Seven Amnesties Since 1980 Contribute to 35 Years of Income Inequality in America

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

March 17, 2016

For the tiny handful of Americans who may still wonder why the voter rebellion against the establishment is so intense, a recent Economic Policy Institute blog post explains it. EPI called income inequality “a defining feature” of the American economy for the last three-and-a-half decades that has “directly affected most Americans.”

In the example that EPI cites, had workers’ wages increased correspondingly with productivity, as they did for 30 years post-World War II, an employed American earning $50,000 today would instead be making $75,000.

The economic data EPI points to, which has enraged working Americans, includes the following:

  • Nominal wage growth of 2.2 percent remains below a level where workers would reap the benefits of economic growth.

  • Real hourly wage growth in 2015 was fastest at the top of the wage distribution.

  • The gap between the top and everyone else has grown.

  • Evaluating men and women separately, from 2014 to 2015, the strongest wage growth was at the top of the men’s wage distribution and at the bottom of the women’s wage distribution.

  • For men and women, those with less than a college degree had lower wages in 2015 than in 2007.

For broke Americans, little relief is in sight.

Democrats and Republicans alike promise to end income inequality, but voters have no confidence in their assurances. Little wonder they’re apprehensive. Income inequality dates back to the Reagan administration, and includes the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies – two Democrats and three Republicans.

Since 1980, all five presidents have supported high immigration, outsourcing, trade deals and the increased distribution of employment-based visas to foreign-born nationals. During the period, Congress passed seven amnesties that provided employment authorization documents to at least 5.5 million illegal immigrants.

The upcoming Supreme Court U.S. v. Texas decision could reward nearly 5 million more aliens with work permits, further depressing Americans’ wages and ensuring that income inequality would continue.

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your representative to sign the House amicus brief that opposes President Obama’s lawless power grab amnesty that would grant millions more work permits to aliens.

For broke Americans, little relief is in sight.

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