by Pamela Powers Hannley
Since the Tea Party took over the House of Representatives after the disastrous 2010 election, you'd think the most pressing job facing the Congress was to lower taxes on the richest Americans. (Feather-bedding the 1% is right up there with squashing our civil liberties, suppressing voter turnout, grandstanding about cutting "entitlements" (AKA earned benefits), supporting Wall Street banksters, and protecting Citizens United and the obscene campaign finance system we have.
Just look how many marches, blog posts, letters to the editor, calls to representatives, and Occupations it took to overturn the Bush Era Tax Cuts on people who make more than $400,000 a few months ago. (And it still probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for three percentages that changed public opinion– 99%, 1%, and 47%.) More on taxes and budgets after the jump.
In the latest budget fiasco playing out this week in Congress, there are three budget plans in play: the conservative Republican Paul Ryan budget, the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget (which is an amendment to the Ryan plan), and the Senate Democrats plan, put forth by Patty Murray.
One piece of the Ryan plan and the CPC plan focuses on how much income tax the wealthiest Americans should pay. Ryan wants to lower the top tax rate to 25%– going back to the Coolidge years (yeah, that worked out well)– while the progressives want to raise the top bracket to 49% (on income over $1 billion). Bumping up the income tax rate on billionaires to 49% sounds like a big jump, but when you look at the historic data (provided above in a graphic from the Washington Post), you can see that that rate has jumped up and down wildly– depending upon who is President.
So, can billionaires afford to pay higher income taxes? Of course. They can afford to pay 49% on anything over $1 billion much more than the elderly and the disabled can afford chained CPI. For that matter, people making $250,000+ can afford to have their Bush Era Tax cuts rescinded.
The rich also can afford to pay more into Social Security; currently Americans don't pay FICA on any income over $113,700. (So, if you believe the right-wingers when they say that Social Security is in financial trouble, how come they never propose raising or eliminating the cap?)
And, finally, the rich Wall Street banksters can afford to pay a tiny Financial Transaction Tax (AKA Robin Hood Tax) on each stock market trade.
So, what's the big deal with the debt and deficit? I've just offered a few trillion dollars worth of ideas– some of which are in the CPC budget plan. The vote is this week. Call your Congressional representative and tell him or her to vote for the Back to Work Budget. Here's a petition you can sign. Here's a link to send a letter.