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Should the rich pay more?

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/File

(Read caption) President Barack Obama is seen walking up the steps of Air Force One as he boards Air Force One at Orlando International Airport, Monday. Reich supports President Obama's proposal to end the tax cut for people earning more than $250,000.

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As we go into the final days of a dismal presidential campaign where too many issues have been fudged or eluded — and the media only want to talk about is who’s up and who’s down — the biggest issue on which the candidates have given us the clearest choice is whether the rich should pay more in taxes. 

President Obama says emphatically yes. He proposes ending the Bush tax cut for people earning more than $250,000 a year, and requiring that the richest 1 percent pay no less than a third of their income in taxes, the so-called “Buffett Rule.” 

Mitt Romney says emphatically no. He proposes cutting tax rates on the rich by 20 percent, extending the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, and reducing or eliminating taxes on dividends and capital gains. 

Romney says he’ll close loopholes and eliminate deductions used by the rich so that their share of total taxes remains the same as it is now, although he refuses to specify what loopholes or deductions. But even if we take him at his word, under no circumstances would he increase the amount of taxes they pay. 

Obama is right. 

America faces a huge budget deficit. And just about everyone who’s looked at how to reduce it — the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles Commission, and almost all independent economists and analysts — have come up with some combination of spending cuts and tax increases that raise revenue.

Just last Thursday, executives of more than eighty large American corporations called for tax reform that “raises revenues and reduces the deficit.”

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