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NEW YORK MUST ACT TO NARROW GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR

"The rich get rich and the poor get poorer" is not just a cute line from a Tin Pan Alley song, but a moderately accurate description of modern America.

No one denies that the first part is true; the rich have obviously been the prime beneficiaries of the generally booming U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, recent studies show declining real incomes for the poor and much of the middle class. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute . . . "The current situation can only be described as a crisis. New York has, by far, the most unequal income distribution of all 50 states, and the situation is getting worse." . . .

What is to be done? The best solutions would come at the national level, and should include: a national health-care system, a higher minimum wage, removing the cap on taxable Social Security income, putting labor rights into trade agreements, and passing a law to prevent companies from permanently replacing strikers.

Passing that progressive agenda, however, does not look likely soon, so meanwhile what is to be done in New York? . . . The Fiscal Policy Institute does have various proposals, some of which, such as raising the state minimum wage, improving public transportation and starting a program to help the working poor get secondhand cars, are worth doing. So is abolishing the gross receipts tax on utilities. Also worth doing are income tax cuts that, unlike previous ones, do not mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers. . . .

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