Billionaire stock market guru Warren Buffet recently called upon the rest of the American upper crust to dish out more taxes. In a New York Times op-ed, Buffet insisted that he wanted to pay more than the roughly “17.5 percent” of his annual income that ultimately gets sent to Uncle Sam. While he’s not the only member of the super-rich to be calling for higher taxes on those earning more than 1 million a year and even more for those who earn higher, the call to action is invoked only by a handful. At the center of the argument – whether or not taxing the super-rich, particularly on capital gains and other “unearned” income, will actually fix the United States economy or not.
The debate descends downward into the middle class, which up until recently has mostly opposed any tax increases, including those only affecting the top 1 percent of the American moneymaking population. Your average South University online alum getting taxed over 30 percent has consistently believed that the super-rich shouldn’t be taxed as much. The typical working class waitress sitting on a nursing degree while the job market stagnates has been resistant to generating more revenue through making the wealthy pay more. All the while the economy has turned into a rickety roller-coaster.
But, as Buffet has demonstrated, the focus on taxing the rich more is starting to gather intensity. Our close calls with a double-dip recession are straining our confidence in tax cuts being the only way to get out balance sheets in order. Recent polls conducted by CNN reveal that the majority of Americans now want to see the super-rich taxed more.
Yet these same polls also show that the majority of Americans want to see massive government spending cuts too.
Which goes to show that taxing the super-rich is by no means the solution. Americans know that our problems can’t be fixed by making any one sect of society foot the bill. Fixes are going to require massive reforms and reexaminations on how we operate our economy, and more importantly, ways to make sure that government spending is always under control and always in the best interest of the American people.
With that said, the super-rich need to pony up more tax money and Buffet is rare in that he’s brave enough to say it in public. Arguments that high taxes inhibit job creation are hard to make when unemployment has consistently stayed around 9 percent while tax rates continue to be low. Relatively speaking, what the rich pay today in taxes is a pittance of what they were paying during World War Two and the decades afterward.
Neither Warren Buffet nor I need to remind you that those years are remembered as America’s best.