Thursday, September 22, 2011

Millionaires can afford a tax increase

Ben and I talk a little bit about the "Buffett Rule" in this week's Scripps Howard column. I got my populist on:
Should the federal government raise taxes on millionaires? Why not? They're millionaires! They can afford it! Don't let all the crocodile tears over "class warfare" persuade you otherwise. 
It's time, in fact, for millionaires to start giving back to their country. While Americans in all income categories saw their tax rates slide slightly from 1979-2007, the top 1 percent of households saw a big drop: From 37 percent to 29.5 percent. The richest 400 households in America got an even better deal, says the Economic Policy Institute: Their average tax rate dropped from 26.4 percent to 16.6 percent -- a tax rate nearly 4 percent lower than the average American's. 
The millionaires can afford it. 
And the rich are getting richer. EPI also notes that from 1983-2009, the top 5 percent of households accumulated 82 percent of the nation's wealth gains -- half of that went to the top 1 percent -- while the bottom 60 percent lost ground during that time. In fact, the Census Bureau reported last week that the poverty rate is the highest measured in 52 years; the median household income declined in 2010 by 2.3 percent from the previous year. 
The millionaires can afford it. 
Republicans protest that levying such taxes will penalize "job creators" and discourage them from doing the hard work of capitalism. 
But take a look at the high, sustained unemployment rate. Right now there are four job seekers for every job opening in America. The rich aren't actually creating jobs right now; they're sitting on their money. Put that money into President Obama's jobs program! 
America's wealthy are getting wealthier. The rest of us are not. It's not "penalizing success" to ask millionaires to pay just a little more. But those higher taxes might give many Americans a shot to survive. 
The millionaires can afford it.
In fairness, I'm not certain Obama's jobs program will deliver the kind of employment jump-start we need. But at least it's something.


namefromthepast said...

By the pure contempt that Obama shows for business in the US by threatening higher taxes, further regulation, and Obamacare, how could anyone say "the rich aren't actually creating jobs right now.." and pretend they don't know why.

Why champion taking someone else's money if you aren't certain it will do any good anyway Joel? Your last few sentences are the pure unadulterated class warfare you said to resist at the beginning of your post.

emawkc said...

I guess I just don't think "Because we can" is a good enough answer to "Why should we raise taxes?"