Intellectual Republicans (oxymoron yet?) are still clinging to the idea that we can’t tax the rich because of job creation, but even they must see that since we haven’t been taxing the rich and they aren’t creating jobs, this talking point is slowly choking on its own failure.
Thus they hop over to the argument that economic growth happens when you stimulate the economy by cutting taxes because then there will be more revenues because companies are more successful.
Obviously, this is not true, at least during a recession, or we wouldn’t be in this mess. And as Chris Hayes pointed out this weekend, where would we end the tax cuts? This is what I call the Republican tax cut cliff. There’s nowhere to go for them but to pull a Thelma and Louise and go all in, and hope that driving off that cliff will result in a miracle of suspension. Those of us who still believe in gravity know better.
The current Republican argument is that the top 2% should be able to get 93% of the income growth while still enjoying a tax sale. They want to continue to shift the burden of revenue to the poor and middle class, if their actual policies tell us anything.
The issue is that, as Republicans kept telling us when they drove our credit rating down, we have a deficit and we need revenue. The deficit is largely their fault, with federal spending under Obama at its lowest pace in 60 years.
Bush’s two unfunded wars were left off of the budget until Obama took office. Combine his wars with the Bush tax cuts and then the Bush economy that we are still staving off, it’s clear that we need to generate revenue. A real fiscal conservative would not balk at paying their bills. It is only this current crop of corporate tools who will say anything to justify not paying their own bills. They demand that the 98% take responsibility for policies they had no part in enacting (for example, war costs a lot more than “entitlement programs” and war enriches certain members of Congress and their federal contractor friends), while the 2% get a forever free ride.
After three years of Republican obstruction, Republicans refusing to pass one jobs bill save at the last moment the Veterans Jobs Bill, holding the country’s credit rating hostage over a deficit that they then refused to participate in addressing by making any cuts on their side and instead spending all of our money passing social legislation aimed at taking resources and rights away from labor, minorities and women (also often known as the middle class), it would be foolish to pretend we don’t know what the current Republican Party stands for. They’ve told us in their actions what they stand for, and it’s not the middle class or jobs or fair tax structures.
Another talking point of outraged Republicans is that all businesses are small businesses. This is supposed to mom and pop those mean corporate entities that get subsidies from all of us while making record profits. The federal government actually has a definition of small business, and no, big oil and big pharma and News Corp don’t fit into it. Not everyone needs a tax break.
Sadly for these conservatives, I am not coming at this from the point of view they assume I am. I have run a million dollar small business, and I have run several businesses that made much less than a million dollars a year.
What I’ve learned is that if you are not rich, you are paying a lot in taxes. If you are rich, you have a lot of ways to move your money around and use legal loopholes and tax shelters to avoid paying your fair share.
This means that the tax rate is almost irrelevant, because the top 2% rarely pay their tax rate, and even when they do, the tax laws are so friendly for the rich that they are getting a break on their house, cars, jets, vacations (used to offset income or profit), and investment income which is taxed at 15% instead of the 30% or so that a line worker at GM pays.
While most workers have taxes deducted from their paycheck, a business owner pays taxes to the government directly, writing a check every quarter. No matter who you are, this is a painful experience one can soon learn to resent, feeling as if you earned it and it should be yours to keep. But in reality, so do the workers with a paycheck earn their money and they are just as entitled to want to keep their money and want a tax cut, if not more since they are often paying more percentage wise in effective tax rates.
I have some friends who run in circles with the very wealthy and I know how they legally stash money away and play duck and dodge with Uncle Sam. These kinds of tricks aren’t available to most Americans, and that isn’t right. I like those folks; I’m friends with some of them, but it still isn’t right. Try as the Right might to paint this as class warfare and hatred of the rich, that’s not reality.
Spin those talking points around, and you have the truth. The current tax laws show a disdain for the working class, a structure created for the privileged — to keep them up and keep the little people down.
How can it be right? It’s not right, and any argument made for it is based on the truth that those in power are the top 2% or they are funded by the top 2%, so they will make policy that benefits those people. It’s a rare leader who makes policy for the people.
The whining you hear about taxing the rich is akin to a two year old who doesn’t want to share his toys. For the rich, it means the difference between feeling free to not think about money at all and having to think about money. Whereas for most Americans, it means the difference between dipping into their savings or going into debt. That’s what the 2% don’t get.
They don’t get it because it is not their reality. Just as Mitt Romney thought that a $19,000 a year job was a good middle class job, the very rich simply don’t understand the math of middle class America. They don’t understand living paycheck to paycheck. Their worries are more like, ‘Gee, in a year that balloon payment of $5 million is due on that land I bought… I hope I don’t get slammed with taxes on the sales.’ Commence bitching about taxes because they took the “risk”.
What about the middle class, who work hard for those rich people? Do they not get a seat at the table? Are they not a part of that creation of wealth? Do they not create demand with their purchases? Is their work worth less than another’s simply because it pays less, and therefore they should be punished through policy for being a worker instead of a risk taker? (I could argue that working for one of the 2% is a risk these days, but that’s another article.)
It’s absurd to think we can have a democratic society based in the notion of liberty for all buttressed by the foundation that only the top 2% count. It is possible, for we saw it recently under Clinton, to have a society where the middle class thrives and the top 2% make good money. The two are not mutually exclusive.