Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taxation Please

What is with the Grover Norquist no tax pledge?  Nearly all of the republicans in the House of Representatives have signed on, like it’s a requirement.  So deeply buried in the conservative mindset is the regrettable “read my lips” comment made by George Bush Sr. that they have sworn off raising taxes forever.  Good for them, bad for the country.
It seems ironic to me that I would ever write anything in favor of raising taxes.  I, like most people, hate paying taxes.  Taxes take money out of my pocket and leave me with less.  Saying “no new taxes” is popular because of people like me, and you, who dislike forking over more of our hard earned loot.  Unfortunately, the popularity of no additional taxation squares off head on with the burdens of running so big a country with so many needs.  Barac Obama has said we need to tax the wealthiest among us more and to eliminate tax loopholes and he is correct; and he might also mention that everyone needs to kick in a little more.  In the past, taxes have been raised because of looming and potentially crippling debt and that is what the US is faced with today.  Many economists agree that revenue is a REQUIRED element in getting out of our growing debt burden along with spending cuts.  Even though many in the populace find paying more disagreeable; they do like roads, and bridges, and safety nets for their families.  They also like a government that does not go bankrupt.  In the past it was up to responsible elected officials in the government to make the hard decisions of how much more to tax in times of need.  Heck, even Ronald Reagan raised taxes. 
We do not have the same breed of politician in office now.  We have grown adults signing a pledge to never raise any taxes so they can get into power.  They are not acting like grown-ups, they are behaving more like political hacks being irresponsible, and playing a game that could and probably will lead this country to even more shocking economic events, like another great depression, wars, huge sacrifice, and eventually a different America. 
We got here because of many events but none more evident than the inept handling of his office by George W. Bush.  On his watch the country suffered a huge blow with the 9/11 attacks; Bush used the opportunity to cut taxes in a time when he was also gearing up for war in Iraq, (based on a faulty premise).  Never before in the country’s history had we decided to go to war AND cut revenues.   Bush even gave back money to American citizens twice mainly in the form of $300 checks and told us to go spend the money, it was our duty to be a consumer oriented people.  George also allowed a new unfunded prescription program, Medicare D, with money coming from nowhere except taxpayers.  Also, there was the housing debacle that happened under his watch, when the country saw a boom in house buying.  People who could scarcely afford their cars were buying homes with non-existent credit.  Bush spear headed this effort with several admonitions to Americans to buy a home, as part of the American dream.  Lenders were certainly given free reign during this period, leading to the great recession when something called derivatives and sub-prime lending got together and created a mirage of wealth that crashed our economy when the façade was removed.  Home ownership spiked from from 2000- 2007, and now all you hear about are the painful stories of people losing their homes.
So Bush took a Clinton surplus and by starting a questionable war in Iraq, lowering taxes, starting an unfunded new Medicare program, and encouraging the populace to buy homes they couldn’t afford, he set the country up for the biggest economic catastrophe since 1929.  This allowed a Democratic candidate the opportunity to win the next election but at a terrible time.  The new president would begin  their administration with a huge budget deficit, lower revenues, and the possiblity of a depression
So bad was the economy when Obama took over that 700,000 jobs a month were being lost and Dow Jones was plummeting from 14000 on its way to 6440 in March of 2009.  All economists agreed it would take years to get the country back on its feet.  But if we know one thing about national politics, it’s that Americans dislike a bad economy and a high unemployment rate and nearly always vote out the party in charge of the White House when hard times arise.  Regardless of who was responsible for the wretched economy, voters have short memories and could not link Bush's policy failures to the economic situation Obama faced after two years of cleaning up the mess.  In 2010 nearly every election went the republican’s way, and they took over the House, and those that did signed a pledge to NEVER RAISE TAXES.  Now we are in trouble, big trouble because we need responsible policies from our politicians to remedy our growing debt woes and expand the economy.  I say to republicans now; grow up, do your jobs, and do what is right for America.  Consider new taxes and work together for eveyone, not just Grover Norquist.

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