In 1955, America was paying down the national debt run up during the Depression and WWII.
In 1955, everyone - individuals from the top down, corporations - paid their fair share of taxes. Sure, the top marginal rates were higher, but the wealthy could avoid that by reinvesting in America ... building factories, paying a decent wage, and so on. One man could earn enough to support a family of 4 or more, buy a new car, take a vacation.
Little by little, Republicans chipped away. Waging war with unions - who only guaranteed workers earned a living wage - and so went pensions in place of 401k's. That is, for those lucky enough to work for a company who offered one and would contribute to it. Today, companies regularly tell their workers the company's contribution won't be as high or nothing at all.
Upper management take care of themselves with wage hikes while at the same time laying off workers, downsizing, adding more work to less employees, and the like. Wages for average Americans have not kept up while the income of a small percentage of Americans has risen much, much faster and at a higher percentage.
Wealth has shifted to a small percentage of Americans who don't shoulder the same responsibility to our country they did in 1955. They've moved companies offshore to avoid taxes, used tax breaks - as recent as last years' - for bonuses and short term stock gains rather than, or even than, giving employees the same level of wage increases they've given themselves.
Things are upside down. Wonder why we're running deficits? Because that small percentage cares about no one and nothing but themselves.