"Buffett Rule" Is An Exercise In Fairness
The rich in this country pay shockingly little in taxes, and this problem must be quickly and effectively addressed if we are to seriously entertain the prospect of ever balancing our budget. The vast majority of the electorate, both liberal and conservative, is in favor of raising taxes on the super-rich. In a recent CNN poll, almost three-quarters of Americans expressed support for the Buffett Rule. Even a slight majority of Republicans approved of the President’s common-sense proposal. Yet this was not enough to convince the old GOP dinosaurs in the Senate to pass the proposal, as every single Republican senator save the retiring moderate Olympia Snowe voted to kill the bill.
The Republicans’ consistent mantra is that to raise taxes a cent on any citizen, no matter how obscenely rich, is the cardinal sin. In fact, the vast majority of Republicans in Congress have signed anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist’s pledge to never, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Judging by this fact, it is an absolute joke to believe that Republicans would ever be willing to compromise with President Obama and the Democrats. Without raising taxes, it will be impossible to balance the budget. To effectively reduce the deficit, we need to both cut spending and raise taxes. When the Republicans claim that we cannot raise taxes, they are living in a fantasy world.
Is it unfair to question whether something more sinister is going on here? To call the Republicans the party of the rich is not that much of a stretch. Most of the Republicans’ activity in Congress involves blocking every single measure that might adversely affect the richest people in this country, or as the Republicans call them, “job creators.” Republicans deflect any criticism or meaningful reform aimed at the rich by disguising them as these mythical men who presumably control whether our economy is in good or bad shape. To the best of my recollection, it was these robber barons who tanked the economy in 2008 and then walked away with millions, but apparently the Republicans have a different memory.
One of the Republicans’ main issues of late, encouraged by the Tea Party, is balancing the budget. This is a good goal that I agree with, but I believe most Republicans have absolutely no intention of actually following through on this. The ones that do are simply delusional because they refuse to raise taxes, and consequently, increase revenue. To listen to most Republicans, the only problem is that this country spends too much. Without addressing the main areas of spending in this country, health care and defense spending, Republicans often choose to scapegoat their enemies. For instance, Republicans have proposed cutting home heating oil for the poor and eliminating funding for welfare.
Even though the super-rich make up a minute portion of the voting population, the Republican Party has good reason to coddle them. With the new Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign contributions from millionaires and billionaires, the Republicans need to convince the super-rich to fill their coffers for campaigns. Can you say, “Who’s your daddy?” While all politicians are guilty of coddling those with money and influence, the Republicans pander to the rich with almost no shame. What kind of country do we live in where the first things on the chopping block are essential programs for the poorest citizens?
The unpleasant truth is that poor people are not of much use to the Republican Party. Plenty of destitute Americans vote Republican, but they do so strictly against their economic interest. Poor Americans have in a sense been tricked into voting Republican due to social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. The Republicans are experts at exploiting these “wedge issues,” which galvanize their religious base. An example of this is the recent Republican offensive against Planned Parenthood and women’s right to contraception. As long as the poor in this country are focusing on abortion instead of tax fairness, the Republicans will get votes.
Luckily, the November election will present American voters with a stark contrast. Willard “Mitt” Romney is the typical sugar daddy of the rich in this country. During his time working at Bain Capital, Romney’s job involved gutting failed companies and firing employees in order to turn a profit. As President, Romney would do much the same by sacrificing the vast majority of the country’s welfare for the benefit of his rich contributors.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, was raised by a single mother and spent most of his childhood on food stamps. Obama is empathetic to those struggling in this country in ways that Romney can never be. Romney is the candidate of the silver spoon who will continue to allow the rich in this country to make away like thieves. President Obama is the populist candidate who seeks tax reform and to lessen the burden of the poor. The contrast is clear.