Raise taxes on the poor and the wealthy

This might be just what it takes to bring our country back from the edge of fiscal crisis. Besides, the middle class deserves a break.  Photo: Parker Bros. Monopoly

FLORIDA, November 23, 2012 — Last Sunday, George Will voiced strong criticism of Mitt Romney’s now-famous observation about how the President won a second term.

In a conference call several days after the race, the former Massachusetts governor said that Barack Obama lavished the key players in his electoral coalition with “gifts”. Said gifts, of course, are expansive public assistance programs. The incentive to maintain these programs, in Romney’s view, galvanized support for Obama. 

Appearing on This Week, Will urged Romney to stop “despising the American people”. He went on to mention that no small number of Americans take advantage of tax credits which were increased by Republican politicians.

Of course, Ronald Reagan’s name was floated. Considering that the Gipper has become a pseudo-deity for many in the conservative movement, this should be none too surprising.

I believe that some serious mental gymnastics would be required to accept the notion of Romney loathing our society’s downtrodden. When the facts are considered, his analysis of voter motivations holds true. Exit polls from earlier this month indicated that 20 percent of voters had an annual income of less than $30,000. A remarkable 63 percent of those backed the President, while only 35 percent supported Romney.

The trend is anything other than difficult to notice.

Now, the election is thankfully behind us. However, the Great Recession is here to stay, as is partisan gridlock. The debate over income tax rates, made even more contentious than usual due to the aforementioned factors, does not seem to be especially productive.

For several decades, the middle class has been picking up the tab for the very wealthy and the very poor alike. Championing one group at the expense of the other is a sure plan for class warfare and the tripe associated with it. 

Keeping this in mind, what can be done to spur long-term economic growth?

The tax credits which Will spoke so glowingly about ought to be reconsidered. Phasing them out entirely would be a mistake, but expanding them to the point of insolvency is ludicrous. Likewise, raising taxes on the wealthiest of the wealthy cannot be regarded as unthinkable. 

Simply put, if the economic extremes had less deductions and loopholes, then our country’s playing field would be far more level.

This realization would work as a wonderful starting point for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, those at the top and the bottom hold disproportionate sway over politicians’ decisions. The former group holds the purse strings, and the latter group can be mobilized to form essential voting blocs.

So, as per usual, the middle class is left paying well beyond its fair share. Amusingly enough, too many to count still believe that the wealthy are stealing from the poor. Others think that the middle class is mooching off of the wealthy. 

In reality, most middle-income Americans are not only holding their own, but picking up the tab for everybody else. That is why the time has come to raise taxes on the real free riders.

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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