MetroFocus Special Edition: Wealth and Income in New York City

Host Rafael Pi Roman discusses wealth, income and opportunity with economist and author Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute and Jeff Madrick, senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a former economics columnist for The New York Times. Historian Kenneth Jackson, editor of “The Encyclopedia of New York,” adds perspective on the city’s history of wealth and income disparity.

This MetroFocus special follows the PBS Independent Lens premiere of Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream,” a film by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, on THIRTEEN at 10 p.m.

Using Park Avenue as a metaphor of the wealth divide in America, the documentary alleges that wealthy Americans have made it increasingly difficult for others to gain economic ground. The film criticizes a number of individuals, including businessman and philanthropist David Koch and New York State Senator Charles E. Schumer, the latter for his position on carried interest. Carried interest allows hedge fund managers and investment firm executives to pay lower capital gains tax rates on their wages, rather than the normal income tax rates.

Furchtgott-Roth, Madrick and Jackson will share their responses to the documentary and discuss the issue of the wealth and income divide in New York City.

In response to the film, a spokesman for Senator Charles E. Schumer, Brian Fallon, said in a written statement,

“This film gets Senator Schumer’s position on carried interest all wrong. While the Senator would prefer to eliminate the carried interest loophole across all industries–a view shared by President Obama–Schumer has said since 2007 that he would support any legislation that ended the loophole, even if it only applied to the finance industry. In the Senate, he has voted to close the loophole not once, but twice. Both The New York Times and Washington Post have corroborated this.”

Melissa Cohlmia, director, Corporate Communication, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, also issued a written statement in response to Gibney’s portrayal of David Koch:

“This film is disappointing and divisive. Rather than advance ideas to address the root causes of poverty, it simplistically blames the wealthy while ignoring the billions of dollars in charitable support given by those with financial means. To continue to attack job creators and businesses that work to raise the standard of living for all Americans will only serve to impoverish our nation.

The success of Koch Industries with its 50,000 U.S. employees enables David Koch’s philanthropy. In spite of these attacks, he will continue to support causes that aim to eradicate cancer, advance a free society, and create a better quality of life for all.”

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