Yesterday, the Census Bureau released a report showing that one in seven Americans is currently living in poverty, and that the median income decreased by nearly five percent during the last decade. At the same time, Congress is debating whether to adopt President Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans to expire on schedule, or whether to extend the entire package of cuts as Republicans desire. Today, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) about the poverty data, and whether there is a disconnect between the real economic pain that people are feeling and lawmakers squabbling over tax rates for the wealthy. Bayh agreed that there is a disconnect, but then concluded that the poverty increase means lawmakers should forget about “fairness and things like that” and cut taxes for the rich:
TODD: Yesterday, the Census came out and said one in seven Americans are living below the poverty line. Do you look at that story today — you know, you open up your USA Today, right, and you see that story — and you see Washington is debating the tax rates for the wealthy, and you sit there and say, isn’t that a disconnect in America right now?
BAYH: It is a disconnect, Chuck. What we need to be focused on is growth, how do we create jobs, how do we expand businesses. That needs to be job one right now. And all these other issues involving, oh, fairness and things like that can wait.
As The Wonk Room explained, Bayh is pushing Congress to forget about income inequality that is the worst it has been since 1928, in order to spend $830 billion giving millionaires a tax break equal to almost two and a half times the median household’s income.