U.S Politics — September 5, 2011 at 1:24 PM

America’s class war

Let me be clear, I am not a democrat or republican. I am a free thinker not bound to the ideological apron of neither political parties. However, recent attacks on  President Barack Obama by key Republican party figures (including Republican party presidential candidates) have caused me to weigh in on the altercation. Republicans attack Obama and call him a class warrior because he recently suggested that the wealthiest individuals in the United States, including large corporations, should pay what he (Obama) calls their “fair share” of the costs of both deficit reduction and putting Americans back to work.

No sooner did President Obama make the comment than Republicans swung into action with a ferocious barrage of verbal assaults at the President. It was as if the President committed a treasonable felony, and deserved punitive treatment. The ensued controversy quickly gained momentum and spread swiftly like a summer brush fire.

What I don’t understand is why Republicans, or anybody for that matter, should construe the President’s statement as vile. Since the brouhaha broke out I have continuously searched the President’s comment to find the error in it. I am yet to find one, and chances are that I will never find it because there isn’t one.

President Obama’s comment is common sense. For anyone to oppose it defies logic. It is obvious that the cheap political shots at the President are intended to score political points, but this one ain’t gonna stick.

Republicans’ political calculation is that if Obama is labeled as a class warrior then it will cast him in bad light, and make Americans see him as Karl Max reincarnate. But the strategy is flawed, and most Americans can see through the fuzzy math. Indeed, there is a class war in America and the wealthiest  upper class is winning. What’s more, Obama did not say what Americans don’t already know. In fact, he only reiterated what billionaire Warren Buffet said two months ago.

In the August 7, 2011 of New York Times, Buffet argued in an op-ed that the current tax system in the U.S in which the super-rich pay less percentage in taxes was unfair. “Last year my federal tax bill – the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf – was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income – and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine – most likely by a lot”, an outraged Buffet wrote.

Republicans argue that making the super-rich pay more taxes will not help grow the economy; that it will, instead, result in loss of jobs. This argument is bologna and has no statistical data to back it up. Even if the economy wasn’t ailing the super-rich should still pay their fair share of tax. I don’t see how this will hurt the economy. Instead, it should help it. It is the right thing to do. To act otherwise is unjust and uncivilized.

According to the Republican doctrine, if the super-affluent were made to pay more taxes in-line with their income bracket that the super-rich will respond by refusing to invest money in the economy. Consequently, this will negatively affect the economy because it will result to higher unemployment, they contend. I disagree. The notion that if the super-rich were compelled to pay a tax rate commensurate with their financial status will make them throw a fit and refuse to invest in the economy is baseless and without merit. There is no evidence to support this viewpoint. It is a scare tactic intended to delude the intellectually feeble minded.

Consider this. In the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher than what it is currently. Back then Buffet was very affluent, and he nor any known super-rich American reacted by refusing to invest money because of an elevated tax rate on capital gains and dividends.

Here’s how Buffet put it: “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone, not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976 – 1977, shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.”

Further, Since 1992 the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S), the body charged with collecting taxes in the United States, has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. Now compare that to 2008 in which the aggregate income of the highest 400 sky-rocketed to $90.9 billion, a staggering $227.4 million on average. You will think that based on common sense that federal taxes for the $90.9 billion should linearly increase too. It did not. Instead, federal tax  rates paid in 2008 fell to 21.5 percent. Go figure.

The United States is a democracy, and I find nothing wrong with each political party attacking the other’s ideology while pitching its own as best for the country. Having said that, one thing that gives political parties in America a black eye is when a political party decides to foment an argument which it knows is wrong, but continues to advance the erroneous point of view for political reasons. To become relevant or continue to be relevant U.S political parties must refrain from unjust and overzealous ideologies that hurt majority of the very people they claim to be fighting for.

Political parties and their followers should always remember what Spanish  writer, scholar, and philosopher, Baltasar Gracian (1601 – 1658),  wrote: “‎Don’t take the wrong side of an argument just because your opponent has taken the right side.”

In this controversy the Republican party is guilty of this axiom. It’s time for the U.S congress to get serious about shared sacrifice. Congress must wake up and correct this tax anomaly. The supper-rich can no longer be exempt.

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