Current right-wing political rhetoric is an attempt to incite class warfare, of the middle class allied with the rich against the undeserving poor—to whom much is supposedly redistributed and from which little is supposedly received.
As it turns out, when it comes to so-called entitlement benefits, the middle class receives approximately its proportionate share of benefits (in 2010, the middle 60 percent of the population received 58 percent of the entitlement benefits), with the poor receiving a bit more and the rich a bit less. These numbers contrast sharply with the distribution of the extensive deductions, credits, and other write-offs in the federal tax code, known as tax expenditures, which are much more unevenly distributed: in 2011, the middle 60 percent of the population received a little over 31 percent of the benefits, while the top fifth of the population received 66 percent of the $1.1 trillion in individual tax-expenditure benefits (the top 1 percent alone received 23.9 percent of the benefits) and the bottom 20 percent of the population only 2.8 percent of the benefits.
That’s why government tax and expenditure programs in the United States make the grotesquely uneven pretax distribution of income in the United States only slightly less unequal. The real redistribution of income in the United States occurs before government programs even take effect.
*OK, charts of the day.