Reading this, this, this, and this book over the last 2 months has shaped my thoughts around the issue of taxation, the poor, the rich, and the general good for society.
First, economically: the Bush tax cuts for the rich depend on how you classify the rich. If you include anyone making over $250,000 a year, the cuts would not bring in $600 billion dollars over 10 years. If you classify rich as one making over $400,000 or more, it could be in the upward neighborhood of $3 trillion over 10 years not brought in as government revenue. This group, labeled as “the rich” make up a mere 2% of the taxable population. For a party that loathes fiscal irresponsibility and idolizes a balanced budget, they seem to be dreaming.
Second, socially: how can any Christian who claims to worship and give their life to a pauper (Jesus Christ) and put down the oppressive systems of His day support them today? The religious leaders who were powerful enough stuck with the Roman controllers during the first centuries A.D. The acquisition’s of land, ignoring Jubilee and other Levitical laws (but they sure remember certain but not all purity laws), and levying astronomical tax and interest rates on those who couldn’t ever pay them made what we know as an oppressive system of domination. Jesus looked to rise up against this system of oppression, hence his disruption of the temple activities and holding up of sales, and much of the rest of his ministry.
Today, this system continues to be unfair and lets the rich get off the hook at the expense of the middle class and poor. Surely, many will go back to the economic side of this and say that the rich own the companies and create the jobs. There were no substantial amount of jobs created under George W. Bush with these tax cuts in effect. Why do some continue to dream for this outcome to happen when it didn’t the first time?
I believe Obama has a wise stance on this issue. He believes in continuing the tax cuts for the rich for 1-2 years. I have a serious issue with making these tax cuts permanent. Making them permanent is clearly fiscal irresponsible and does not provide a solid fiscal base for our country to stand on. This is a long term issue if you make them permanent and our country cannot operate forever while letting the rich not pay in. Repealing this law, if made after the end of this year, would take a 60 vote majority. That is a HUGE hurdle to go over to gather all of those votes up. Paul Krugman sums this up in simple terms:
So, for example, we’re told that it’s all about helping small business; but only a tiny fraction of small-business owners would receive any tax break at all. And how many small-business owners do you know making several million a year?
Or we’re told that it’s about helping the economy recover. But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.
No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.