Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate Politics: Taxes

Friday, September 26 9pmEST


"Now, that's a fundamental difference between myself and Senator Obama. I want to cut spending. I want to keep taxes low. The worst thing we could do in this economic climate is to raise people's taxes."


"What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we're giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage. I think those are pretty important priorities. And I pay for every dime of it."


John Paulson, a Hedge Fund manager, earned 3.7 BILLION dollars in 2007. He paid only about 15% in taxes due to loopholes in the current system. I find this appalling. Our tax system is flawed. He and 5 other hedge fund managers who made over $1,000,000,000 (...look at all those zeros!) were able to keep millions of dollars in capital gains. McCain and most Republicans would have us think that somehow this translates into a stronger economy and more jobs - but how this is so really is beyond my comprehension. Please comment if you know how reducing taxes for those most wealthy (we are talking about millionaires and billionaires) is going to turn around our economy. On the other hand, there is firm evidence that this growing income inequality harms society (poorer overall health, broken community networks, decreased social support, etc), and has the most deleterious effects for the disadvantaged in our country.

Last night during the debate there were 17 "mentions" of the health care system in the United States. However, I was less interested in their discussion of McCain's $5,000 health tax credits (via increased employer based health taxes...) and Obama's spending to cover the uninsured -- all of that will be another post, coming soon-- and I was more interested in listening to them debate their tax reform plans. Most Americans are unhappy with the tax system in our country. I am currently among them.

Many Americans may feel overtaxed, but the truth is that those who are escaping like bandits are the ones who you think would be taxed 30 or 40% and are actually paying proportionally less in taxes than you probably are. I would be intrigued to hear a family with a household income of $500,000 argue that taxes (even slight increases) would prevent them from living very comfortably (for my California friends, I would consider views on variable taxes based on cost of living by State/region -- they do it for government employees already!). Consider that our government expects a family of 4 to be able to survive (how about: thrive?) on $21,200/year

Taxes are not a fun topic to discuss -- most Americans are unhappy to be paying taxes at all, despite the extent to which they personally benefit from them with government funded social services (e.g., public education, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, veterans benefits, etc). However, something must be done to tackle the growing income inequality in our country. The pressure that is put on the government to lower taxes reduces public spending for the poor and lower classes that desperately need help. We are still a society that has difficulty taking care of our own and making it possible for all Americans to live out their dreams without having to overcome inordinate and, in some cases, insurmountable obstacles. We need to accept that all is not equal in our great country. Yet, we can move in a direction that reduces such inequity.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

What really gets to me about the entire "tax cut" discussion is the fact that we're at war. Of course the government shouldn't ask for more than people can afford, but I for one don't feel like my country has asked me to sacrifice anything, and that makes me feel pretty bad since I have fellow citizens, friends and neighbors, who have been asked to risk their lives to defend me. War time is not the time to let Bush's tax breaks continue. That is just unpatriotic.

I enjoy seeing some concepts mentioned in class further explored and digested! Fun!