President did it. He finally called out the rich to share
in the nation’s pain. Introducing his debt reduction plan,
he put the proverbial “gun” right on Congress, right before
the 2012 elections. Now let them go out and defend the rich
while the rest of America is hurting. The politics of shared
sacrifice is about to become a reality for the Republicans.
They’re about to sacrifice some members over this. In the
meantime, pragmatism has finally come to this whole balanced
budget discussion. It has never been a reasonable conversation
to have four trillion dollars in spending cuts without some
reasonable interjection of revenues.
the hostage holding is over. The whole Congress will have
to break free from the “budget terrorists” that hijacked
the debt ceiling negotiation process. Certainly they will
take credit for forcing the debt reduction debate, and that
is a partial truth. But now they can take credit for also
forcing the shared sacrifice debate. There can be no sacred
cows in this process, though there are clearly some (Medicare
and Social Security). Common sense would tell us where the
revenue should come from. Protecting less than one half
of one percent while the other 99 and a half percent suffer
is class warfare. Republicans are claiming “Reverse class
warfare,” suggesting that the rich are being unfairly targeted.
It’s not going to work in the same way “reverse discrimination”
worked. The rich got a windfall they never should have gotten
under the Bush Administration. That’s when the deficit exploded.
If they want to get the deficit under control, they have
to put the revenue back. Obama got it right.
what is being called “the street fight for the future of
America,” the debate should focus the nation on “what is
rich” and exactly what that means. The plan President Obama
is calling the “Buffet Plan” (named after Billionaire Warren
Buffet, who has openly advocated tax reform after he discovered
his secretary was in a higher tax bracket than he was but
earning much, much, MUCH less), asked that anyone making
more than one million dollars pay more than the 15% tax
they currently pay. In 2010, 440,000 Americans filed taxes
earning more than a million dollars. That’s .03 of the American
public, out of 144 million taxpayers. It will create 1.5
trillion dollars over the next ten years. That’s significant.
Now what will that do? That will put America close to the
balance budget approach we operated under the Clinton Administration
in 2000. Clinton left office with a budget surplus and was
on target of eliminating the budget deficit by 2008. The
Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the
Jobs and Growth Tax Reconciliation Act of 2003 were passed
to spur the economy and create jobs during the recession
that occurred the first year of the Bush Administration.
Jobs was on the America’s mind when the 9/11 terrorist attacks
refocused the nation’s attention. Giving the rich tax breaks
and job creation credits were supposed to spur job growth.
No new jobs were created and in fact, the nation experienced
zero job growth through the entirety of the Bush Administration—a
point conveniently forgotten when the critics blast Obama
for not creating enough jobs. However, he has created
the “Bush Tax Cuts,” this is a policy that is by and large
viewed as ineffective and was a gift to the rich to help
his re-election. They were supposed to expire in 2010, but
the state of economy was such that the debate around letting
them expire would have ruined the nation. Obama traded two
years more of tax cuts for the rich to get two more years
of unemployment benefits for eight million people out of
work. We can’t forget that when we talk about the high unemployment
rate. How high would it have been had the tax cuts not been
extended? The Republicans play “chicken” with the lives
of everyday Americans to protect a very small segment of
the population who’s benefits outweigh their contribution
to the nation. The rich as “job creators” has been, by and
large, been written off as a fallacy. That’s why Obama’s
plan is timely. Folk are tired of cutting the rich a break
on a false premise. The rich get favoritism because everybody
wants to “be them.” I don’t know anybody who would say,
Naw, I’d rather be poor (or middle class).” Particularly
if you’re paying higher taxes.
a free market economy where wealth is attained without limit,
the rich should pay more. Three out of four Americans
agree that the rich should pay more, if the poor are going
to lose services. It is a practical approach to debt reduction
reform in America. The people want their quality of life
back. Tax exemption should not be a proposition reserved
only for the rich. Everybody else pays their way. The rich
see how long it takes Congress to agree with the public.
Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing
director of the
Urban Issues Forum
and author of
Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is AnthonySamad.com. Click
to contact Dr. Samad.