You may have read a story last week about how nearly half of the 2009 tax filers will pay no federal income tax. That of course got Fox News and all their ignorant viewers in a huff. They cried foul because they think the temporary stimulus tax breaks benefited low income families to too great of a degree. Funny… you never hear them complaining about the Bush tax cuts that lowered taxes for the richest 5% in the country by trillions of dollars. Those tax cuts will expire this year, and Republicans want to see them extended or even lowered.
But, not all extremely rich people are lobbying to make the budget-busting Bush tax cuts permanent. Many of them have organized to send a message to congress that asks for higher taxes. The Seattle Times reports:
Judy Pigott, a Seattle author, philanthropist and an heir to the Paccar fortune, is among the group of wealthy individuals calling on Congress to end tax breaks that have enriched people like her.
They have signed a Tax Fairness Pledge to take the money they saved as part of tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush and donate it to groups working to overturn those policies.
The tax cuts were “based on the erroneous assumption that the trickle-down effect would somehow benefit everyone,” Pigott said. “What we have now is the greatest wealth disparity since the Great Depression.”
She is part of a group called Responsible Wealth Network, a project of the nonprofit United for a Fair Economy. The network of 700 people who are among the wealthiest 5 percent in the U.S. includes Jeffrey Hollender, the co-founder of Seventh Generation natural products, and Eric Schoenberg, an economist at Columbia University and former investment banker.
They want Congress to restore the 39.6 percent and 36 percent rates on the highest income earners and end special treatment of dividends and capital gains.
People in the top 5 percent received almost half of the Bush tax cuts, Pigott said, a figure that amounts to more than half of the current $1.5 billion deficit.
That’s right, the federal government is running huge deficits right now, and Fox News and their Tea Party audience are blaming it on the Democrats for the bank bailout (that was Bush not Obama) and Obama’s stimulus spending package.
This chart tells the real story.
The real budget busters are Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, two wars that were put on our national credit card, and an economic recession brought to you by Bush, Inc. The temporary stimulus package designed to put money in people’s pockets to help jump start the economy has a negligible effect.
Of course the rich can choose to donate their trillions in tax savings to worthy causes, so why would they want to pay more taxes rather than direct their money to whomever they see fit? Pigott explains:
“I think it is the national government that can deal with clean air, water, national transportation systems, education,” she said. “I see those things are in trouble on a state level and on a national level because we don’t have the money. Yes, we can do a lot, but we can’t do what the federal government can do.”
And then there’s the guilt factor:
[Arul] Menezes said he has stepped up his charitable giving. But that won’t have the same effect as reworking the tax system, he said.
“It embarrasses me to go into a grocery store and know that the person at the checkout stand is paying a higher tax rate than I am,” he said.
So like I’ve said before, the super rich have benefited for way too long. It’s time to raise their taxes.