Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Progressive Tax Reform Would Fix Budget Ills

During the French Revolution, the populace, fed up with the corruption and excesses of a super-wealthy ruling class, took power into their own hands and executed the ruling elite. Americans today are engaged in a sort of anti-French Revolution.  Urged on by Fox News and plutocrats like the Koch brothers, Americans, fed up with the corruption and excesses of a super-wealthy ruling class, are demanding that the ruling elite be granted more power and wealth, and are clamoring to thrust their own heads into the guillotine.

The GOP must be astonished that the American electorate simply doesn't understand that there is no need for the vast majority of Americans to pay as much in taxes as they do, when reasonable taxation of the super-wealthy would provide all the government services and oversight everyone might need.

It is no wonder that the GOP and their captive media spend every moment screaming about budget deficits, government shutdowns, privatizing Social Security, eliminating Medicare, busting unions, and machine-gunning protesters.  They cannot believe the American people don't see that raising taxes on a few rich people would solve all the nation's fiscal problems. They are sure they have to keep yelling as loudly and threateningly as possible, lest anyone notice the income tax code is pathologically screwy.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has put forth the following simple schedule that would balance the nation's budget and eliminate deficits:
  • $0-$50,000: 0 taxes (that's right, zero)
  • $50,000-$90,000: 10%
  • $90,000-$150,000: 20%
  • $150,000-$250,000: 30%
  • $250,000-$500,000: 40%
  • $500,000-$5 million: 50%
  • $5 million-$15 million: 60%
  • $15 million on up: 70%
Reich would exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes, and raise the ceiling on the portion subject to payroll taxes to $500,000. Budgets would be balanced, everyone making $250,000 or less would have their taxes lowered, and the Koch brothers would still clear billions and billions for any number of yachts, private jets, ice sculptures and high-priced, er, entertainment consultants. 

The Republicans keep screaming because they can't understand why anybody with a functioning brain wouldn't implement Reich's tax schedule.  Instead, the budget debate is about which vital services will be cut, threatening the lives and well-being of millions of people.

They've got to feel like Marie Antoinette standing around the edge of the Place de la Revolution, dressed in a silk gown, sipping champagne, nibbling caviar, and wondering why the peasants are fighting each other to be first to thrust his or her head into the guillotine.

"Kill me first!" cries a farmer.

"No, me!" cries an accountant.

"No, kill my baby first!" cries a washerwoman.

Marie fingers her lace fan and frets that sooner or later, someone just has to notice her standing there.

And yet, the GOP continues to get away with distracting the electorate with their continuous harangue for more tax breaks for the wealthy, deeper service cuts for everyone else, eliminating labor unions, and stealing the Social Security Trust Fund.

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