We the People: Week of November 22

The nation faces economy and budget problems. The easiest thing to address should be the budget. The easiest part of the budget fix should be an agreement to increase tax revenue so that we can put a dent in our federal debt.

If House Speaker Boehner and House Republicans refuse to act in good faith on behalf of all Americans, then all Americans will pay higher income taxes in January. A tax rate compromise to increase income tax for Americans earning more than $500,000 a year would spare most working professionals and small business owners a tax increase.

Republicans and Democrats then should work together to select spending cuts that minimize job losses and move us away from the “fiscal cliff” as a stronger nation.

There are more billionaires in America than ever and they control more of the wealth of the country than ever before. Stephen Schwarzman, a six billion-dollar man, called the proposal to let income tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans (and return to 35 percent and 39.5 percent) an outrage of the same magnitude as Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939!

This ridiculous nonsense is translated by lobbyists into slick television messages and propaganda to convince workers raising families that any income tax increase is a national disaster. This is untrue. Income tax supports the people of this country and more than 80 percent of it is spent to run the nation and help its citizens while less than two percent is used on welfare.

The Republican Party readily uses disinformation to defend the super wealthy. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who spent more than $20 million to be reelected to her $174,000 a year job, stated that she didn’t know where all the money for taxes and programs would come from since “we’re running out of rich people in this country.”

Really? The economic statistics contradict her but nobody really likes boring facts. The slogans and statements of conservatives sound good even when they don’t make sense. A popular poster propounded the idea that the U.S. was better off in 1913 because in 1913 we had roads, schools, hospitals, an Army and a Navy without the government “stealing” our money through income taxes.

However, in 1913 older Americans were poor and without health care. Child and adult workers toiled long hours in order to keep food on the table. Automobiles and consumer goods were out of reach for working class America. There was no interstate highway system and a de facto system of racial segregation and discrimination existed. Most Americans would never return to that time without the benefit of a trust fund but the poster sounds good.

Why are billionaires calling the taxation of the wealthiest people in America at the same income tax as they paid 10 years ago a national tragedy? There are loopholes in the tax code to protect them so they never pay the full rate, anyway.

Mitt Romney earned millions in income that the tax code called “carried interest” so it would be taxed at the lower capital gains rate (15 percent). “Carried interest” is a loophole for rich capitalists to earn fees from financial transactions that should be taxed as income.

A big stockbroker or financier is given a percentage of a deal as compensation and it is called carried interest. It is no different from when a waitress collects a tip except the waitress has to pay income tax on the tip at the regular income tax rate.

It would be nice if every American could pay an income tax rate at the 13.5 percent “Romney” rate, but then we would effectively have no federal government. One way or the other, income tax for some or all Americans will be raised in January. House Republicans including Representative Grimm will decide if it will be for everyone and if it will be done in a way to help or hurt America.

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