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DAVID ROSMAN: Let's watch America grow again

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | 1:59 p.m. CDT

I take time each day to read newspaper columnists, more so today than in decades past. Agree or disagree, I honor each for taking the time to voice his or her opinions and for suffering the slings, arrows and other adverse reactions. I certainly have the scars.

Occasionally an opinion column tells my gut something is wrong. Last week's commentary by J. Karl Miller did just that. His position concerning the federal budget and deficit, coming from his conservative views and his personal experiences as a Marine liaison to Congress, did not sound right.

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Karl, along with others on the same battle picket line, believes simply cutting spending and lowering taxes will fix a multi-trillion dollar deficit and hundreds of billions in outstanding federal debt. That appeared to be Karl's theme. That is my opinion.

Yet there is much more to the discussion.

Writing about the Franklin D. Roosevelt era economic policies for Kellysite.net, Conrad Black said, "The country was entitled to something more bracing than (President Herbert) Hoover's defeatist, self-exculpatory gloom." The same gloom is being perpetrated on the American people today through an "it's not my fault" fear of an economic breakdown and loathing for government. We are at fault.

The late New York governor Al Smith was right; one must look at the record — not selectively, but at the entire record — to see patterns, losses and successes, and determine the causes for each. Franklin Roosevelt's tax increases, for example, helped reshape the American economy for the positive. Yes, the war effort helped, but that alone would not count for a reduction in unemployment from 33 percent in 1932 to less than 10 percent in 1940. The recovery was a direct result of Roosevelt's work and social programs, the safety netting that helped the American people to recover from the 1929 conservative, laissez-faire-induced financial crash, paid for by increased taxes.

Sunday's "Meet the Press" raised an interesting fact: The vast majority of Americans want Congress to "fix it" but not raise taxes or touch Medicare and Medicaid. Americans have the erroneous belief that not paying taxes is somehow patriotic.

To quote Roosevelt, "Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society." We need to pay our dues; it is the patriotic thing to do. And if you think the taxes in the U.S. are high, consider this: Belgium's tax rate is 50 percent of income and Denmark's highest rate is 51.5 percent. Their people are also some of the most politically and socially content. The U.S. effective tax rate is for the average earner ($40,600) about 12.9 percent, with the marginal rate, which is based on the next dollar earned, is 15%, one of the lowest on the planet.

Conservatives and anti-tax anarchists ignore the real history that "No new taxes" is a promise that has not and cannot be kept, and not just by George H.W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan raised the taxes every year from 1984-87 because "trickle down economics" was not doing the job and the economy was not improving. The result: Business boomed. Clinton dealt with a massive deficit when he took office with spending cuts and tax increases. The result: Business boomed. Somehow the anti-tax movements forget the facts.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told "Meet the Press" host David Gregory that removing tax credits was not raising taxes. Yet that is exactly what it does. Tax credits allow a company not to pay certain taxes by agreeing to certain business practices. A prime local example is the tax credits given to IBM for moving to Columbia, a good business move but a loss of revenue that might or might not be offset by increased income and personal property taxes. The removal of these credits is a business tax increase.

Doom, gloom and fear-mongering are not the answers. Promises that cannot be kept are not the answers. The answer is that we all must pull our own share, for it is our collective fault we are in the mess we are in today. Let's go back to pre-2001 tax rates and get rid of unnecessary tax credits. Scrutinize spending for duplication and squander. Demand the tax codes be simplified to promote federal economic stability. Demand that safety net programs remain, especially in this prolonged recovery. Let's watch America grow once again.

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David's commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com.


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Comments

J Karl Miller April 28, 2011 | 11:16 a.m.

David,
We are in agreement nearly 100 percent of the time--90 percent of our agreement is agreeing to disagree in an agreeable manner. But, I do welcome and respect your civil commentary.

You made a minor misrepresentation in that while I did and do strongly advocate reducing spending, I did not recommend cutting taxes. Instead, inasmuch as our administration's spending is wildly out of control, I am opposed to raising taxes merely to feed its wastrel habit. If, as both sides of the aisle agree, finding ways to cut spending is critical, handing the government more taxpayer monies is akin to providing an alcoholic a membership in the "Whiskey of the Month Club."

My memory of President Clinton's "helpful" tax increase is less than warm and fuzzy. Hailed as a tax hike only on those with incomes of 200K and more, it raised taxes also on social security recipients whose total income exceeded $32,000 per annum..I was one of those "wealthy" folks who was allowed to "contribute to the investment."

Neither the government nor individual citizens can spend their way out of debt. The 2.7 trillion dollar deficit spending for 2009 and 2010 resulting in no discernible progress in employment speaks for itself.

We do agree on the need for simplifying the tax code, curtailing duplicate spending and an end to fear mongering. Finally, for anyone who equates paying higher taxes with patriotism, I am certain the IRS will welcome the added contribution.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 28, 2011 | 11:22 a.m.

So tell us what your gross income, AGI and taxes were over, say, the past five years. Which tax credits and deductions have you been taking?

Instead of arguing, "Let's go back to pre-2001 tax rates and get rid of unnecessary tax credits," why not recalculate your taxes every year back to pre-2001 levels and send the extra money to the feds?

BTW, would you consider the EITC and child care credits to be unnecessary? Eliminating those tax credits and deductions would broaden the tax base by reducing the amount of people -- currently nearly 50% -- who pay no federal income tax.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin April 28, 2011 | 1:32 p.m.

Our leadership ain't no Franklin Roosevelt -- or Ronald Reagan, for that matter.

Today's leaders are among the most blitheringly unenlightened in U.S. history. The idea that sending this bunch more tax dollars to turn around a massive mess they -- not we -- created is foolhardy. It's like the definition of insanity -- keep doing the same thing (sending money) to expect a different result (spending sanity).

The idea that taxes aren't high enough is also ridiculous, keeping in mind the Federal income tax is but one of dozens we pay.

Along with Federal income taxes, most of us pay FICA, FUTA,
sales taxes and fuel taxes to a variety of entities, property taxes -- either directly or through rent -- Medicare, and state income tax.

The self employed pay a self employment tax. Small businesses additionally pay state unemployment and workers compensation taxes (or premiums, depending on what your state calls them); and if incorporated, corporate income taxes, too.

Of course, earned income isn't the only thing taxed in our "organized" society. We pay taxes on bank interest; estates; any gains made from the sale of most assets.

We are also routinely cheated when we pay taxes -- by those wealthy enough to pay nothing, and by the corrupt leaders who let them.

I'm paying bills today, and looking at all the taxes and taxes going-under-other-names attached to my utilities.

To keep our society organized and support our stunningly failed leadership, today I'll be paying:

Mo State Telecom Tax
County Telecom Tax
City Telecom Tax
Regulatory cost recovery charge
Municipal gross receipts surcharge
Federal Universal Service Charge
Columbia Muni Tax
Payment in Lieu of Tax

all in addition to the sales taxes on each of my bills (phone, water, sewer, lights, gas -- just the basics).

Call me when we get better leaders who do a better job keeping our society "organized." Until then, keep your mitts off my wallet. I have a zoo's worth of taxes in there feeding like piggies as it is.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin April 28, 2011 | 2:44 p.m.

"Instead, inasmuch as our administration's spending is wildly out of control, I am opposed to raising taxes merely to feed its wastrel habit."

I realize you have no respect for Paul Krugman, Colonel, so I hesitate to bring him into the conversation. But he does deal with facts that, while they aren't that complicated, you probably have no interest in understanding as it would require you to stop blaming our budget crisis on Obama — a "Fox talking point" if ever there was one.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04...

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller April 28, 2011 | 3:58 p.m.

Brian, where did I blame our budget crisis on Obama? He is merely the current steward of the problem; however, unemployment and spending have surely worsened on his watch. By the way, perhaps you can explain the fascination some of you have with FOX News? I find television news to be little more than a collection of sound bites gathered to feed its gullible and too lazy to read viewers.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 28, 2011 | 4:18 p.m.

If information from "Fox News" is a talking point, is claiming over-and-over that it's a talking point....someone's talking point?

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin April 28, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

Well, you got me there, Colonel ... I simply assumed that because your assertion that "our administration's spending is wildly out of control" is so demonstrably lacking in any context whatsoever that, like so many conservative commentators who never think it worth mentioning that the recession, the wars, the tax cuts, the prescription drug program — all of which occurred under the previous administration and that, according to the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities "explain virtually the entire deficit over the next 10 years" — you blamed Obama.

(The "Fox talking point" crack was a reference to the most strident critic of your last column.)

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 28, 2011 | 4:38 p.m.

Keep in mind that it's Congress, not the president, that has the ultimate say on taxes, wars and spending. Presidents can propose, plead, haggle and veto all they want, but Congress is the branch that calls the shots. Just ask Obama, who rode in thinking the election gave him carte blanche, only to find he couldn't get his own party to march in lockstep, much less all of Congress.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 28, 2011 | 4:49 p.m.

Brian says, "all of which occurred under the previous administration"
_______________________

True. With a genesis in the PRIOR administration.

Dominos-R-Us.

PS: I note that we are still in Afghanistan, still in Iraq, new to Libya, still have a re-authorized (and updated) Patriot Act, still have Guantanamo, still have TSA groping you, still have Homeland Security monitoring your communications, new internet rules, 4-6 trillion more in debt, etc.

How do YOU feel about that?

PS: Did George Bush get a 3rd term or sumpin'?

PSS: I'm starting to like this president........did you get the "change" you voted for? No, you didn't. Because THIS president, just like all winning candidates, had an appointment with the brick wall of reality. Splat! Unlike the most rabid of his constituency, the president had to accept the way the world really is.....the constituency, however, is still mired without long hair in Rapunzel's ivory tower. Ain't gonna be a white knight, either.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 28, 2011 | 5:32 p.m.

brian wallstin - You were right to hesitate to bring Krugman into the conversation. Why you people believe in him so is amazing. He says John Taylor claims there has been a huge expansion of Federal Government under BO. Taylor actually wrote about the trillions of dollars spent under BO (5.2T$ since he and Pelosi). Krugman addressed two facts, we are in a recession and spending as % of GNP was 19.6, 2007. 23.6 2010. All the rest was a "frothferous" attempt to show that the recession,not BO is responsible. A better question to answer would be where the hell did the money go? The growth of gov't is a problem, but, the unbelievable Debt is the greatest concern and Krugman never touched it.

David Stockman, who liberals learned to love, after he jumped on Reagan, just got off of (that's right) Gerri Willis, Fox Bus Ch. He believes the Fed must quit buying all this debt and must raise int from 0% to strengthen the $ to end our recession. Sounds more like Reagan, than Reagan.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson April 28, 2011 | 8:00 p.m.

@Michael Williams: well said. We are a few months past the midpoint of The One's first (or perhaps only) term as president. Until January, His party had Congress. The buck will eventually have to stop with Mr. HopeyChangey, rather than be constantly passed to his predecessor (wasn't he supposed to be on a ranch in Paraguay by now, avoiding criminal charges? I miss chickenman from the Trib board.)

The Bush tax cuts are now the Obama tax cuts.
The Bush/Cheney gulag at Gitmo is now Obama's detention center.
The Bush/Cheney/Halliburton endless war on "terra" is now the Obama "overseas contingency operations."
The jackbooted Bush "unPatriot Act" is now the Obama Patriot Act.

And so on. All those "progressives" should be clamoring for refunds. And maybe replacing their Shepard Fairey posters.

(Report Comment)

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