Read My Lips: We Need To Raise Some Taxes
It doesn’t bother me that Republicans in Washington and around the country seek to meet the challenges of badly strained government budgets only with spending cuts while taking tax increases off the table. That’s the Republican philosophy of government after all. What astounds me is that Democrats are letting them get away with this in so many places.
Democrats seem totally incapable of making clear certain facts that are so obvious: That not every tax affects every taxpayer; that some individuals and businesses deserve to be taxed more, and can well afford to take the hit while most of us can’t; and that from a purely economic perspective, increases is some taxes are infinitely preferable to the current just cut spending alternative.
At the federal level, the debate in Congress today shouldn’t just about where to cut and by how much. It should include that, yes. But it should also be a debate about reversing the Bush-era income tax cuts for the well-to-do.
Why is his appropriate? Because the present debate in Congress is about an already passed fiscal year budget that’s no longer considered a done deal. Fine. If that isn’t a done deal, why should the extension of tax breaks for the rich passed last year be a done deal?
At the state and local levels of government, Republicans are getting away with comments like ones from the recently elected governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, who said in an address to his legislature that “we must tax no more, because the people have no more to give.” What people? Taxes need not be raised on all people.
Higher income tax rates can be applied only to the highest earners. Higher sales taxes can be applied only to luxury goods, as is being done in Connecticut which has a Democratic governor. There are all kinds of properties other than middle class people’s homes that could be hit with a larger property tax bite.
And when it comes to increased business taxes, not all would drive companies to another state if raised, and not applying some borders on the idiotic. Again, in my native Pennsylvania, our new governor specifically excluded in his proposed budget taxing drillers seeking to tap the natural gas riches of the Marcellus Shale region. Where’s the sense here? Would the state lose the drilling business if we don’t do this? Of course not! This is where the natural gas is. Drillers can’t go to another state to get it. So why shouldn’t they help meet my state’s huge budget deficit?
It’s not simply disquieting. It’s disgusting that Democrats have become so brow-beaten by their Republican opponents that they choose over and over again merely to reduce the size of spending cuts for vital programs, instead of presenting simple, straight forward alternatives to the public.
Do you want the richest Americans to enjoy that tax break they got last year and don’t need, or do you want to save scores of federally funded health, education and environmental programs. Choose.
Do you want local governments to raise your property taxes and have school class sizes of 50 or 60, or do you want a bigger sales tax on luxury goods sold in your state? Choose.
Do you want the teachers who provide your kids with an education to feel like they are being singled out for cuts so a few industry campaign contributors can soak up a hundred million or two in untaxed profits? Choose.
Democrats should not just be mouthing off occasionally about “sharing the pain.” They should be explaining, specifically, how this pain should be shared. Failing that, they should just cross the aisle and be done with it, or leave office “to spend more time with their families” and collect their post-public service payoffs as lobbyists.
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