Saturday, July 28, 2012

Taxes and Taxes Oh My!

President Obama is once again asking Congress to have the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. Specifically, he is proposing that all Americans receive a continuation of the Bush tax cuts (at 35%) on the first 250k of their incomes, and pay the Clinton-era rates (39%) for any income earned above that level.

At first glance, it would appear that this economically-sound proposal would receive immediate approval from the “deficit-hawks” and the “fiscally responsible”. But then again no change worth making comes easy.

Republicans claim that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on any income earned over 250K would hurt small businesses, hurt the job creators, hurt our growing economy, and hurt all working-class Americans. But despite the partisan rhetoric seen on Fox News, the facts are indisputable.

First, a recentTreasury analysis found that only the top 2 percent of all households, and only the top 2.5 percent of small-business owners, would face higher taxes from our president’s call to expire the tax cuts on the wealthiest. But for these individuals, I assume paying anything more than the 15 percent rate that their capital gains/dividend yields are currently taxed at is asking for too much.  

It is also important to understand that the main reason businesses are not creating more jobs is because of the decreased demand for their goods and services. Put simply, if people don’t have money to spend, the economy cannot grow. Therefore, we need to ensure that the middle-class (ie. the REAL job creators) are provided the same opportunities the wealthiest have, including affordable healthcare, lower taxes, and access to higher education.

Second, the notion that Obama’s policies have bankrupted our nation is blatantly false. It was due to the leadership of the last Democratic president that the economy generated 22 million net new jobs, and income levels for all Americans grew at historic levels. On the other hand, it was the policies of the last Republican administration that took a $200 billion surplus and drained it to a $1 trillion deficit. Ironically, these same failed policies are being proposed by the “pro-business” “job-creating” Republican nominee for president.

It is because of President Obama and his so called “socialist” policies that we are not in another Great Depression: unemployment is lower than three years ago; home foreclosure rates are lower than three years ago; we are safer than we were three years ago; more people have healthcare than three years ago; the American auto-industry is stronger now than it was three years ago; and there have been more jobs now than there were three years ago.

Third, no one in the Democratic Party resents wealth. What we resent is the distribution of wealth to the very rich; when profits are privatized while losses are socialized; when the few wealthy individuals get tax credits on the backs of millions of working class Americans; where the very rich have continued to prosper while the 98% of the population have not.

And why not simply extend all the Bush tax cuts? Because we can’t afford to. Therefore, the loss in revenue from continuing the tax cuts on the top 2 percent needs to be balanced with equal cuts in something else. Unfortunately, these cuts are usually taken from programs that are specifically designed to benefit a middle-class family living paycheck to paycheck.

Given this choice, we need a president who understands that “our prosperity has always come from an economy that's built on a strong and growing middle class…so that's why I believe it's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself, to expire,” (Obama). 

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Like Obama'care'

And so should you!

When our president passed the Affordable Care Act, Republicans claimed it was not the correct solution to the healthcare problem. Republican leaders also want you to believe that if they were in control, they would offer a solution. But they have had control of the House since 2010 and have not yet offered anything to the American people. Instead of proposing any substantive alternatives of their own, they have focused solely on repealing “Obamacare”. But how is this a policy?

Even when they had a unified government during the last Bush administration – with control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency – they were still unable to come up with any real solution (instead they decided to focus on depleting our nation’s surplus by forging two wars and passing tax-cuts for the wealthiest Americans). The only time they offered something substantive to the healthcare debate was in the 1990s, when they proposed the individual mandate.

So, as a truly bipartisan leader, Obama decided to put the Republican’s sole contribution to the healthcare debate into his healthcare law in 2009, when the Democrats had a unified government. In other words, when Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, Obama still chose to reach across the political isle (something that angered some in his own base) in the spirit of compromise. He didn’t have to. But Obama wanted to elevate politics to a level he promised in his 2008 campaign, and he did so in the most moderate and transparent way possible.

But instead of appreciating the president’s efforts, the Republican leadership chose obstruction. They have not only used the Senate filibuster more than twice as much as ever in the history of the Senate, but they have said numerous times that their sole priority is to defeat Obama. They have been unwilling to come up with any real solutions of their own, with the exception of saying “No” to everything our president has proposed.

Even now, after the Supreme Court upheld the only solution to fixing our nation’s broken healthcare system, the Republicans’ only alternative solution: repeal Obamacare.

They continue to spend every day of President Obama’s administration to try and distort the facts. They claim that Obamacare would raise taxes, increase the size of government, increase our deficit, put granny on a death panel, hurt business owners, hurt doctors, and hurt insurance companies. But it is critical for the health and safety of our nation that we sort through fact from fiction. Here are just a few facts. If you don’t believe me, let me know WHY:

The Individual Mandate is NOT a tax. It is only a penalty for those who do not take the personal responsibility of buying health insurance. The idea, proposed by Republicans, ensures that no one gets a free handout and that the rest of us taxpayers need not bailout or pay for someone else’s healthcare. In fact, because of Obamacare, nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate check that comes from a provision of the law that punishes insurers who spend too much of policyholders' premiums for boosting company profits instead of paying for their medical care.

Obamacare does NOT run up our country’s deficits. According the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare reduces deficits by $210 billion.

Obamacare is NOT a government-run program. All it does is stay true to capitalistic principles of the free market and prohibit insurance companies from maintaining monopolies on your insurance policy. The reason that we needed the federal government to get involved in the first place is because before Obamacare, most states had no solutions of their own (with the exception of Romneycare). There were millions without coverage, and millions more who were forced into bankruptcy when they got sick and couldn’t afford healthcare

Obamacare IS about the economy and jobs. If a large chunk of your paycheck goes to paying for rising healthcare premiums that you cannot afford, you don’t have much money left over to help businesses grow. Furthermore, if you are sick and are forced into bankruptcy, you are no longer self-sufficient. Instead, you are forced to rely on free handouts. In doing so, you cost the average taxpayer $1000 in increased premiums due to your visits to the ER. In doing so, you become a drag to the economy.

Obamacare IS a moral issue. In our nation’s history, we have always benefited from expanding rights to a group of people who have otherwise been denied those privileges. Think about the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Although it may have been seen as a distraction from “jobs, jobs, jobs”, we knew that it was the right course of action for our country. In the same way, I don’t see how it is okay for people to go bankrupt if they cannot afford healthcare. I don’t understand how it is okay to deny people coverage for a pre-existing condition. Morally, it is not right.