Posts Tagged ‘deficit reduction’

Warren Buffett calls for fair—that is, higher—taxes on the super-rich

August 15, 2011

The battle in Congress over America’s budget problem is both practical and ideological. People on the left argue that the budget can never be brought under control without a blend of tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts. On the right tea-party-fueled passions oppose any tax increase on the grounds that the rich are already paying more than their fair share and, moreover, that raising their taxes will stifle job creation.

Into this battle rides Warren Buffett, the world’s third richest person with assets of $50 billion. In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, headlined “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” Buffett demolishes both arguments against higher taxes for the super-rich.

First he explains how under-taxed the wealthy are: his tax rate of 17.4 % of taxable income is the lowest of the twenty people in his office, including his secretary. And that’s not uncommon for the super-rich. His summary:

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.

And as far as the argument that higher taxes will slow down investment by the super-rich in new jobs, America’s most successful investor puts it this way:

People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. (more…)

Obama won the debt-ceiling battle, so Dems, quit whining and smile

August 4, 2011

The only people happy about the battle over the debt ceiling are the pundits, because it gives them an audience and an opportunity to display their insights. Oh, and people close to the President, because they know he won.

Months ago, when John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were assuring everybody that whatever happened they wouldn’t allow the nation to default, President Obama stated his position: he wanted a clean extension that would carry the country past the 2012 election. He didn’t ask for a tax increase on zillionaires, or a deficit reduction—these should be tackled aside from the debt ceiling increase, which after all is only needed to allow the United States to pay its obligations, every dollar of which had been authorized by the Congress.

But Boehner and McConnell couldn’t control their members, especially the Tea Party members who wanted to use the debt ceiling as a bludgeon to smash government. The ceiling had been raised without controversy dozens of times before under Presidents and Congresses of both parties. The Republican threat was a repudiation of ethics, duty, and the Constitution. Still, the threat came.

In the end, and just in the nick of time, the President got what he had asked for: a clean bill that simply raised the limit enough to carry the country past the 2012 election.

You could be confused by the words about a super-committee to identify trillions in savings, or about triggers to force cuts. Here are the facts: (more…)

One-term Obama can bring effective and ethical government to Washington

December 2, 2010

Barack Obama ran for President on a platform of hope and change. While he’s delivered a lot of big things—saving the economy, delivering near-universal health care, beginning to restore America’s reputation abroad, and beginning an end to two wars—he hasn’t begun to change the ways of Washington. His latest attempt lasted only a few hours, before the Republican leadership announced its determination to stop everything unless it got what it demanded in the form of a $700 billion tax break for the rich and super rich.

So what’s an ethical President to do when his attempts at compromise and progress are blocked by House minority leader John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who announced on the eve of the 2010 election, ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”

More important than the managing the budget crisis, more important than ratifying the START Treaty with Russia, more important than reducing the obscenely high unemployment rate, even more important than tax relief for billionaires!

The answer for the President is staring right at him: give McConnell what he wants most of all, in return for the change Obama promised. Here’s how this grand compromise might work: Obama promises not to run for re-election. In exchange McConnell and Boehner promise to work with the Democratic leadership to achieve:

  • Long-term deficit reduction equivalent to that in the report of the bipartisan deficit commission
  • An economic package, including extension of the Bush tax cuts for (more…)

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