Winner-take-all Politics

Winner-take-all Politics

How Washington Made the Rich Richer, and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

Book - 2010
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The very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades--even during the current economic crisis--while most Americans haven't. How have they managed to restructure the economy to reap the lion's share, tearing new holes in the safety net and saddling all of us with increased debt and risk? In an innovative historical departure, Hacker and Pierson trace the rise of the winner-take-all economy back to a major transformation of American politics in the late 1970s, under a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress. With big business and conservative ideologues organizing themselves to undo the regulations and progressive tax policies that had helped ensure a fair distribution of economic rewards, deregulation got under way, taxes were cut for the wealthiest, and business decisively defeated labor in Washington. And this transformation continued under Reagan and the Bushes as well as Clinton.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2010
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781416588702
1416588701
9781416588696
1416588698
Branch Call Number: 306.3420973 H1156W 2010
Characteristics: 357 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Pierson, Paul

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Ethan_Annis
Jul 13, 2016

[I originally wrote a version of this review on Facebook and edited it for this staff pick review. EA]
Hacker and Pierson do an outstanding job describing how during last 35 years the government altered the tax structure in ways that favor the wealthy and businesses. What I found surprising was that both parties often voted for tax code restructuring that has led to the most extreme wealth concentrations since the Great Depression.
Recent news stories inform us that sometimes hedge fund managers, earning a billion dollars, pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries and that despite hefty profits, General Electric paid no taxes this year. Winner Take All makes a compelling case that the tax breaks that made these situations possible were achieved over decades by lobbying, starting in the mid 1970's. Before the 1970's the Labor Movement represented the working and middle class Americans. In the mid 1970's, Labor's fortunes began to diminish and thus there was little organized lobbying for anyone except the business world and very wealthy. This has led to a lowering of taxes. Since the government normally reallocates wealth through taxation and redistribution and this has not been happening as much, gradually money has been pooling at the very top of the economic pyramid.
Since the book was written, several state governments have dealt significant setbacks to organized labor and recently the NY Times had an article about how Obama is mending bridges with Wall Street.
The book is worthwhile for anyone attempting to understand politics and the state of the economy today. It pairs well with Aftershock, by Robert Reich. Reich describes the effects of highly concentrated wealth whereas Hacker and Pierson explain how the wealth got to be so concentrated.

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cuwabig1
Mar 05, 2015

A terrific book, well researched. Helps to explain the beginnings (30 years ago) of the current political chasms in the U.S.

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StarGladiator
Feb 06, 2015

A paid-for professional liar? Well, he is on the Yale faculty, after all, so what would we expect? Don't blame the banksters, cries Hacker the Shill from Yale, blame their lackey politicians. [If there were even a micron of truth in this terribly contrived trash, there wouldn't be even the fraction of those exorbitantly paid lobbyists in Washington, D.C. and in every state capitol.]

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