We are in danger of going over "The Fiscal Cliff" -- in large part -- because the framing of the Bush tax cut issue and adding "revenue" to our debt crisis has been appalling.
Why is no one breaking this down? And why are we ignoring two hugely relevant points?
Breaking It Down
A small business owner, or anyone, earning $300,000 would, after the expiration of "The Bush Tax Cuts" pay $2,300 more in taxes.
That's 39.6 percent instead of 35 percent times the $50,000 over $250,000. A whopping 0.76 percent of his or her very nice adjusted gross income, after deductions.
We're going to shut down the government over that? And someone making $500,000 in one year would pay only $11,500 more? Someone making $1 million pays $34,500 more?
We Should Pay for Our Wars, Not China -- A "War Tax"
Now $34,500 or $11,500 or even $2,300 is not an insignificant amount of money, but over 6,600 dead and over 50,000 injured for life and anywhere from $1.39 trillion to over $3 trillion in taxpayer dollars are far more significant numbers. Those are the figures for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars... which no taxpayer has been asked to cover even though a majority of our representatives (primarily made up of those from the party that opposes any tax increases) voted for and authorized this massive component of our increased national debt.
Is it really right that only those brave enough to put on a uniform and put their lives on the line should bear the burden of two wars meant, ideally, to keep all 310 million of us safe? Shouldn't we consider this in a different way? Shouldn't we really be calling any tax increase something like a "surcharge" or "contributions in lieu of military service" or, if we have to use the word "tax", a "war tax"? And isn't our fiscal security, as one party says, equal to our military security? If so, let's enlist "soldiers" in that war... and those who are most capable, financially, like highly trained fighter pilots and brilliant officers or superb Navy Seals... are, quite naturally asked to do more.
So, let's frame the repeal of "the Bush tax cuts" as, at least, a temporary "war surcharge" or "war tax" and keep it in place until we have paid back the money we have borrowed from China and elsewhere to fight our battles in Iraq and Afghanistan?
And, lastly, come on. If taxes go up 4.6 percent on those making over $250,000 our country is not going to spontaneously combust or fall into the sea or become the 21st Century version of the Soviet Union. Why don't we, every day, mention that top marginal tax rates under Ronald Reagan started at 69.13 percent and were above 50 percent for the vast majority of his eight years in office. And capital gains taxes and minimum tax rates were also significantly higher. If higher tax rates fueled the greatest presidency the world has even known, according to those who won't allow us to return to those rates, why would we not go beyond 39.6 percent and copy -- precisely -- the tax formula of Ronald Reagan himself?
In order for us to stop racing towards the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" it would be mighty helpful to frame these issues properly so we, as a country, can stop the panic and finally have a sane, intelligent and honest conversation on the issue of taxes.