April 15, 2011
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Much of the discussion stemming from Rep. Ryan’s and President Obama’s budgets has focused on taxes. The Republicans continue the tax cut drum beat bemoaning how America’s terrible tax burden on the rich and on corporations is crippling the economy. And their solution is to cut services for the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Of course, most of these claims about current tax rates are utter nonsense. Taxes on individuals and corporations are at historically low levels–period. That’s a fact.
I don’t like paying taxes any more than the next person. But I love the national parks, I like rolling onto to Interstate 90 without hitting a two foot pothole every mile, I enjoy getting the mail delivered to my door and in spite of the sleepy air traffic controllers I’m glad airplanes rarely run into one another. I’m willing to pay for these services. I do wish Bill Gates and General Electric would pay taxes at least at the same rate I do. If they did, we wouldn’t have this ridiculous deficit mess in spite of the billions we spend blowing up people in Islamic countries.
There’s a series of charts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that demonstrate the trends and current state of U.S. tax policy. They show all those facts that the Republican Party just ignores. Such as: the effective tax rate on the wealthiest Americans is around 16% vs. the 25% most of us pay. Over the past 30 years income gains for the richest among us have skyrocketed while middle- and lower-class families have barely kept pace with inflation.
Tax fairness and a little corporate less greed would go a long way in solving America’s fiscal problems.