“We cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. And I refuse to renew them again.”
— President Barrack Obama
April 13, 2011
This statement is a breath of fresh air. Back in the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, the President was faced with a Republican minority that was holding hostage the unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who have been mired in this achingly slow recovery, a recovery that I believe has been slowed by Republican obstructionism. The ransom to deliver on insurance that workers pay into? (You know, unemployment insurance.) You know the answer. We can’t help the middle class or the poor unless we first help the rich (Jesus said that didn’t He?) so Obama was forced to maintain the Bush tax cuts for another two years. In his speech today, Obama threw down the gauntlet and refused to renew those cuts beyond next year. It’s about time.
Of course, Speaker Boehner says that the problem is not that taxes are too low, but that spending is too high. He’s wrong. Are there areas where spending can reasonably be cut? Sure. However, for Congressional Republicans to sit there and claim that they are serious about deficit reduction while advocating further tax cuts on the rich just proves that they’re lying and don’t care about the deficit at all. They care about getting as much as they can for the rich and for corporate America.
Boehner spoke today about what it would take for the Republicans to support raising the national debt ceiling (and averting economic chaos). Not only are the Republicans going to insist on destroying Medicare and making the Bush cuts permanent, but they want to go and further reduce taxes on the wealthy…a move that will increase the deficit.
Boehner asserted that taxes are too high, but they’re not. They’re too low, particularly for the wealthy. We need to return to the Clinton levels of taxation at a minimum. I’d supp0rt going back to the Eisenhower tax rates. But if we’re serious about the deficit, we can tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income. For Medicare and Social Security, lets start by removing the ridiculous ceiling that prevents income over $107,000 from being subject to payroll tax.
Now, can the rich carry the whole load? Of course not, but they can certainly be expected to share in the sacrifice that is necessary to turn our economy around.