Talking about taxes is going to be a big deal this election, especially since the Romney/Ryan budget plan would reduce taxes for the one percent even lower than they are now and gut services for the rest of us. How can we not talk about them? But let's talk about them by calling them what they really are.
No democracy can exist, let alone survive, without income to support the General Welfare of its peoples, and our Founding Fathers understood the importance of protecting the freedom and security of the population from those who would seek to profit at our expense.
“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.” ~ John Adams, Founding Father and 2nd President; Thoughts on Government, 1776
Taxes and tarrifs have existed since our nation's founding, and the first time the country turned to individuals to support their country through their income was in 1862 under the leadership of Republican President Abraham Lincoln.
No one becomes successful without using the resources of the country where they generate their income. And corporations and the wealthy benefit the most from their share of their investment in America.
- They take advantage of government programs that afford them access to favorable financing, grants, and other sources of cash.
- Their goods travel on our roads, bridges, and waters.
- They enjoy the benefits of trade agreements with other nations set forth by the federal government.
- They get special consideration in the tax code for income they did not perform any labor to make.
Corporations and the wealthiest one percent of Americans are enjoying the greatest profits in our nation's history, yet they are hoarding their cash and hiding it from their fellow citizens, refusing to invest it back into the country that made it possible for them to achieve their success in the first place.
This is wrong.
And to their credit, many in the one percent not only don't advocate for further cuts to their share of the nation's income, they are actively speaking out in favor of increasing it. But none of those advocates are among the Republican leadership who are seeking to permanently allow corporations and the wealthiest among us to avoid their responsibility to the country who invested in their success with its resources.
The country took a dramatic cut in its income when Republicans twice slashed the share that the top one percent of earners were investing back into America. The results are clear and aren't even in dispute by former Bush economics advisors. And the economic damage from them will extend far out into the future, especially if we do not do something quickly to reverse them. From "Five myths about the Bush tax cuts," published in The Washington Post (emphasis added):
- The tax cuts ... raised government debt—and higher government debt leads to higher interest rates. ... [E]stimates of this relationship—by former Bush Council of Economic Advisers chair Glenn Hubbard and Federal Reserve economist Eric Engen, and by ... Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and [William G. Gale*—indicate that] the tax cuts have raised the cost of making new investments. ... [T]he overall effect of the Bush tax cuts on economic growth has therefore been negative—and it will continue to be negative if the cuts are extended.
- [T]he continuation of current fiscal policies, including the Bush tax cuts, would lead to a national debt in the range of 90 percent of GDP by 2020. That's already the highest rate since just after World War II.
- The Bush tax cuts ... account for a significant chunk of [the yearly deficit rise to 6 to 7 percent of GDP], considering that in each year they are in effect, the revenue lost because of them amounts to nearly 2 percent of GDP. [And this has nothing to do with obligations on Earned Benefits because] Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security aren't expected to hit their steepest spending increases until after 2020.
- [E]ven if all of the cuts expire on Dec. 31, we will still be paying for them for years to come.
With these kinds of looming fiscal problems ahead of us, we need the recipients of Bush's largesse to return to their previous level of investment in this country—a level at least equal to that which workers have to pay on income from actual labor. While the average wage-earner provides about a quarter of their income as investment in our country's general welfare, we ask the extremely wealthy to return only one sixth of their take. But the Republican party of today doesn't think the super rich need to be good stewards of the nation to the same degree as the rest of us, in spite of enjoying its comforts, protection, and building blocks used to amass their fortunes.
The GOP of today, rather than acting as representatives to all the people as is intended in a representative democracy, seem to be serving only those with the most money, promising them the ability to hide the rewards they’ve reaped from our resources and keep all of it for themselves. They are operating under the premise that the social contract that must exist for a nation to survive, to enjoy freedom, opportunity, and security for all, doesn't apply equally to the small one percent as it does to the rest of us.
There was a good reason our Founding Fathers put not one, but two, "General Welfare" clauses into our Constitution: The entire country matters, not just the rich “land owners.”
We, the People, need a raise in our national income, not another income cut!
Now read why our political process is so polarized, and what to do about it, in "Your Brain On Politics" »
*William G. Gale is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Let's Talk About Tax, Ba-By! And let's call it what it is: Our nation's income and an investment in America. bit.ly/JoB2p9— Jill Klausen (@jillwklausen) May 20, 2012