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Thursday, April 16, 2009

After the Party Questions

April 16, 2009
I get why folks want to protest; I protest something every day: the price of Sentinel and Frontline, the price of gas, the price of school tax, and the cost of roast beef. Furthermore, many are frustrated by the news that we are falling apart as a nation and more frustrated that no one, in a position of power, seems to be doing anything about it. We are also troubled because when a political change is affected, 50 percent immediately hate it; the perpetual, iniquitous cable networks pick up bits and pieces of the event and drub it to death in their biased pitch to their audiences. To add to our misery, not many of us really trust others to make a sensible observation unless we hold membership in a particular philosophopolitical mindset. Lastly, we are scared by our news, by our loss of wealth, by the aloofness of our leaders, and of our future. Should we grab onto gold coins, get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, join a group of survivalists, pull our kids out of school, and/or start a church? With all that transpires in this scary world, some chose to protest our tax bills, and I am glad that they did because the more people who actively take part in offering rational solutions to our problems, the better are the chances that we will stumble upon some answers that maybe 70 percent could agree are good.
Naturally, the Tax Party events were covered (some will say promoted by; some will say derided by) the Media, and today the web and newsstands disclose the various takes on the event, and coincidentally (or not) on how much taxes the Obama’s paid. I want to share some data that I apprehended in this morning’s Washington Post which cites the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office as its source:

The federal income tax burden is already hovering near its lowest level in three decades for all but the wealthiest Americans.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the average family forked over barely 9 percent of its earnings to the IRS in 2006, the most recent year for which information is available.
The middle fifth of taxpayers, who earned an average of $60,700 per household in 2006, paid just 3 percent in federal income tax that year, down from a high of 8.3 percent in 1981.
According to the most recent IRS statistics, about 45 million households -- a third of all filers -- owed no federal income tax after taking their credits and deductions in 2006. This year, with the profusion of new credits in the stimulus package, about 65 million households -- or 43 percent of all filers -- are likely to owe no income taxes, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

The article goes on the quote Dick Armey, a Republican lobbyist, former House majority leader, and head of FreedomWorks. Armey claims that the protesters are not complaining about the taxes they pay now but about the taxes they will have to pay because of the current stimulus packages and bailouts.

Well, OK, whatever. I do support the Tax party’s right to assemble, but I can’t quite get my mind on what they really are protesting: taxes that are high, or taxes that are going to be? If the CBO’s analysis of 2006 is correct: taxes are not high at all, and Obama has offered more tax cuts for people making under 250, 000 dollars, plus car credits college credits, first time home buyer credits, and children credits. So if this is true and will come about what high taxes were all these people protesting? Or did they all trust Armey who claims that people know that more spending means more taxes?
Obviously, we are full circle in the search for reason in all this protesting, whom do we trust? CBO, Armey, Fox News, MSNBC, The Washington Post? I can only tell you that I would not be inclined to trust a Texas repuklican. I do think I can get an agreement on one idea: we have to pay for what we use. We wanted a war; we have to pay for it. We wanted lower taxes and got them; we have to pay for it. We wanted to make business more profitable by outsourcing jobs traditionally filled by blue collared Americans; now we have to pay for it. We wanted cheaper TVs, sandals, shirts, pants, iPhones, iPods and we shipped overseas all the jobs to make them; we got to pay.

If the CBO is correct (and I know that is a magnormous IF), maybe some folks ought to take to the streets protesting for a reasonable INCREASE in taxes to help get us out of the messes we are in.

If the Tax Party was about anything other than high taxes, those groups would do well to identify clearly their purposes, so that the rest of us could really understand what’s going on and not have to guess: we already guess too much.

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