stop thief! tax cuts for wealthy?

Happy Tax Day!

Here’s my op-ed that ran in today’s The Recorder, out in Greenfield, Massachusetts …

STOP THIEF! : REPEAL TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY

Have you seen this latest headline? $700 billion stolen from the U.S.A.! America facing imminent bankruptcy! Forced to close interstate highways, police departments and libraries across the country! Thieves described as the wealthiest 2.5% of Americans!

Well, just because we haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Under the Bush-era tax cuts, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth, away from the majority of hard-working Americans, to the richest among us. And they have escalated a trend that has been hurting us for decades now.

Since 1960, the “effective” tax rate of middle-income Americans has risen slightly, while the rate paid by our richest 0.1% has actually been cut in half. Moreover, the top 400 income earners have seen their tax rate drop during this same period by two-thirds, according to a new report, Shifting Responsibility: How 50 Years of Tax Cuts Benefited the Wealthiest Americans, by Wealth for the Common Good. 

In 2008, taxpayers earning just $12,000 saw nearly 12% of their income taxed for state and local governments, while those making close to $1,500,000 barely paid 8% in local and state taxes.

The current tax system is out of balance. The wealthy are not paying their fair share. And the majority of taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for this unnecessary, underserved, unjust, unaffordable, unaccountable, unaccounted for freeloading of the American people.

Fortunately, Congress, and President Obama have an opportunity to stop these criminal acts and restore the tax structure to a system that is more balanced and fair: we can allow the Bush tax break for the wealthiest 2.5% of Americans to expire, as is currently being considered by Congress for this year, and let everyone pay what they owe.

This should not be hard to do. President Obama campaigned on the promise of raising taxes for taxpayers making at least $250,000. And a majority of these high-income earners voted for Obama. Likewise, a majority of Americans who don’t make a quarter of a million dollars a year also voted for Obama. So there is overwhelming public support to repeal the Bush tax cuts, and it comes from all sides of the economic spectrum.

There is even organized support from among the wealthiest 2.5% of Americans, all of whom are currently benefiting from these tax cuts. Members of Wealth for the Common Good and Responsible Wealth, both of which represent affluent Americans who are interested in using their privileged economic position to ensure a more just society, are voicing their imminent concern that personal financial gain is of little value in a land of growing economic disparity, underfunded police departments, and bankrupt local libraries.

The Bush tax cuts hurt us all, regardless of your tax bracket. And it will be all of our faults, from the handful of those with wealth to the millions who struggle daily in this land of plenty, if we don’t take advantage of our opportunity to fix our broken tax system. And our mistake will be one for which we all will continue to pay.

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Filed under Economic Justice, Fair Taxation

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