We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Southern lawmakers earn low grades for efforts to address income inequality
Though the South is the region of the United States with the greatest concentration of income inequality, its representatives in Congress are doing a poor job of addressing the problem.
The Institute for Policy Studies released a report this week that grades federal lawmakers on 40 legislative actions over the past two years that either helped the most affluent or the poorest of their constituents. They ranged from a bill to establish a “Buffett Rule” minimum tax rate for wealthy Americans to legislation raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.
Of the states with the most uneven income distribution, only one — Massachusetts — has senators and representatives who earned an overall average “A” score. The 13 Southern states* earned an average score of C-. Of those 13 states, 10 have among the highest income inequality index scores nationwide, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.
“Members of Congress have the capacity to make sure all Americans, not just a privileged few, share in the wealth that we all together create,” says study co-author Scott Klinger. “With this new report card, voters can see for themselves how well their elected lawmakers are meeting that responsibility.”
Among the findings:
- Republicans make up the entire list of 11 senators who got an “F.” They include John Boozman of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
- Republicans also make up the entire list of 48 representatives who got an “F.” They include Sandy Adams of Florida, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Kevin Brady of Texas, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Michael Conaway of Texas, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Renee Elmers of North Carolina, John Fleming of Louisiana, Kay Granger of Texas, Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Rich Nugent of Florida, Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi, Pete Olson of Texas, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Bill Posey of Florida, Martha Roby of Alabama, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Dennis Ross of Florida, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Austin Scott of Georgia, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Steve Womack of Arkansas.
- Three of the six Democratic senators most friendly to the interests of the 1% most affluent Americans are from the South: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia.
- Six of the 11 most 1% friendly Democratic representatives are from the South: John Barrow of Georgia, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, and Mike Ross of Arkansas.
- None of the five Senators who earned A+ scores by doing the most to bridge the U.S. economic divide are from the South. Of those 14 representatives who earned an A+, only three are from the South: Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, and Hank Johnson of Georgia.
“The point of this report card is not just to name and shame,” writes report co-author Sarah Anderson at Huffington Post. “We also aim to draw attention to the many creative proposals for restoring fairness that deserve more support.”
Two of the pending bills on the IPS list would raise revenue for human needs by taxing Wall Street transactions, while the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget would protect social programs by reducing military spending and raising taxes on speculative investments.
“These innovative ideas challenge the oft-asserted notion that austerity is our only viable option,” Anderson observes.
For a copy of the report, and an interactive version of the inequality report card map above, click here.
- Editor's note: This story originally published at SouthernStudies.org and used under the creative commons license. If you appreciate these stories, please support their work by making a donation at SouthernStudies.org.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
How does that happen? Mostly, it's the result of a mixture of hubris and inadvertence. Humans, stuck on themselves, think they know it all. Others are convinced "all it takes is the idea" (the ExxonMobil slogan) and, as it was in the beginning, man says the word and nature is obedient. Fortunately, the age of electronics has made it possible to virtually eliminate inadvertence. We can look ahead and simulate what will happen, if we repeat the mistakes of the past. That's what James Holland is doing with the various projects at Cannon's Point in the marshes on the coast of Read on →
One wryly fascinating aspect of achieving "seniority" is that my senses have become more adept at finding free entertainment. Locating alternative sources of amusement has become almost a necessity these days. Daytime television remains abominable, cable TV is objectionally priced (probably by those same pirates who sell inkjet print cartridges) and the ransom one has to give up for seats to professional sporting events is unconscionable. Also, our local news daily, though not unreasonably priced is but a shell of its former self. It is no longer a joy to read. One amusing activity, I find, involves no equipment, no cover cha Read on →
Summary: Why does that the line from Yeats apply to America in our times? "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are filled with a passionate intensity." One important reason is that the battle playing out in our politics is fundamentally a moral and spiritual battle, and while the right is connected to their moral and spiritual passions (even though that connection has been made on the basis of lies) Liberal America is not. Much of that disconnection in Liberal America is due misguided beliefs, including: 1) that "value" is not really real, and 2) that there is nothing in Read on →
My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren't there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or "The man who wasn't there," by Hughes Mearns. Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today, I wish, I wish he'd go away... When I came home last night at three, The man was waiting there for me But when I looked around the hall, I couldn't see him there at all! Go away, go away, don't you come back any more! Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door... Last night I Read on →