Tackling America’s Tax Problems

Americans love to complain about taxes being too high. Your taxes are not too high, the quality of services you receive for those taxes is too low. Your taxes are lower today than they were 15 years ago, or even 2 years ago. The same is true for virtually every single person in the United States.

Unfortunately, thanks to a restructuring of how and where money is spent in Washington most Americans are getting fewer benefits for their income tax investment.

Few people complain about high taxes when they see robust building projects, social development, strong educational performance, and low unemployment. Few people complained about taxes during the Eisenhower administration when the top bracket paid 90 percent income tax rates – and the economy was booming.

The complaints about high taxes that we hear today are coupled with an environment in which public schools are falling behind, zero jobs are being created and every free dollar in Washington is spent to shoot at, blow up, or occupy populations overseas (correction: some of the spare money is also given to financial institutions).

The nation must collectively agree to go after some low-hanging fruit in the pursuit of reinvigorating our economy and ensuring the sustainability of our country. Rather than simply cutting spending haphazardly across the board, the government should re-direct that spending to other things and seriously consider new ways of accumulating revenue.

The Warren Buffett Plan – taxing the super rich – makes the most sense, embodies the “shared sacrifice” required to recover from recession, and is wildly popular among the vast majority of Americans.

If you are particularly against the idea of repealing the disastrous Bush Tax Cuts, a plan that helped only the wealthiest of the wealthy and directly led to accelerating debt accumulation and the deterioration of basic and essential services across this country, there are other forms of revenue creation available.

One of the simplest would be to institute a value-added tax (VAT) on goods sold within the domestic economy as well as goods imported into the United States. This would in essence be a national sales tax. It would hurt people who have less money to spend more than it hurts the super wealthy, but it would also create revenue from the $1.7 trillion worth of goods and services imported into this economy every year. If some of that revenue was then reinvested into social programs to help those who carry the most burden from the domestic sales tax, the net result would be positive for everyone.

If the United States truly wanted to do away with its debt problems forever, and guarantee that there was enough money in Washington to pay for robust development projects, it would combine a VAT with a repeal of the Bush cuts while also instituting the so-called “millionaires tax” suggested by Buffett and others.

Combining these tax efforts would erase our fiscal deficits and ensure that Republicans and the Democrats who follow their lead do not try to solve the crisis by slashing funding for school lunches and retirement benefits (these proposals are included in the recent debt deal).

The problem is not a lack of money. The United States has plenty of money. The problem is a combination of mis-allocation and unwillingness to adapt.

This economy could rebuild its entire transit and energy grid to get off of imported oil entirely in just 10 years if it took every cent spent on the wars and dedicated it to R&D, design and construction projects.

The United States could afford universal healthcare while also giving free tuition to all public universities if it had not lost nearly $1 trillion to the Bush Tax Cuts.

We could save millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars from flowing out of our economy each year on imported goods with the simple institution of a value-added tax.

The solutions are out there. It is our job to take the initiative and implement them.


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