A Tax Others Embrace, U.S. Opposes

Conservatives strongly oppose President Obama’s call for a tax on millionaires, but there are signs that Americans may be more open to the idea, which is popular in Europe.

Comments: 108

  1. A flat tax where every wage-earner pays a set percentage puts everyone's skin in the game. No taxation with representation is no fairer than a progressive system that allows the middle-class and wealthy to pay it all while the poor pay nothing. A fair flat tax with a slight rise in capital gains taxes should be phased in over 3 years with no gimmicks; it gives everyone the burden and it's simple.

  2. Tax cuts don't create jobs. Period. We have overwhelming evidence of this simple fact. Demand creates jobs. A middle class supported by well-paying jobs creates demand. Allowing the wealthiest individuals to hoard their wealth inhibits demand. Giving more money to the already wealthy in hopes of bribing them to hire someone is madness. And yet we keep repeating this insanity. Raise taxes to reduce the deficit.

  3. I'm confused. This article talks about the merits of taxing the rich, but the accompanying graphic clearly shows that the rich already pay a much higher proportion of their income in taxes. What happened to the whole "fair share" message, or is the NYT going to admit that was total class warfare tripe?

  4. I would like to see a Progressive Tax system set in place in the U.S. where the poor pay less tax AS A PERCENTAGE of their income than the wealthy.

    If that is not going to be possible then I want the rich to pay AS MUCH AS A PERCENTAGE in taxes as I do.

    If Republicans say that this will not create jobs than how come their still complaining about unemployment so high right now when taxes on the rich are less than the middle class? Sounds fishy.

    --If you agree that taxing the rich more (fairly that is) say: Yes

    --If you don't agree with taxing the rich more say: I'm un-American

  5. This proposed tax is especially popular among non-millionaires.

  6. In this case the wealthy have been skipping out on payment since Reagan, putting government on the taxpayer's credit card. Reagan, GHW Bush and W Bush together added $9.6 trillion to the national debt with borrowing to cover tax cuts. The distribution of wealth is now the most skewed since 1929. It is not unreasonable to ask them to pay to recoup some of this tax holiday.
    BTW it's not "class warfare" to ask the wealthiest to pay more, our income tax brackets were like that for forty years before Reagan. Methinks the strategists behind the Tea Party threw this phrase out as bait to get liberals and the far left to bite, so they can accuse them of all being commies now showing their true colors.

  7. Had the results of the poll provided the opposite conclusion would the New York Times placed it on the front page?

    So tired of all these push polls. The only polls that matter are the ones that ask if you are going to vote for Candidate A or Candidate B.

  8. We have a massive spending problem at the federal, state and local level. Taxing the rich more simply makes it easier later to raise tax on everyone else... Because a lil tax on the rest is where the real money is! Just look at the escalating sales, property, toll bridges, speeding and parking tickets, etc... So it's frightening that the nytimes is using socialistic and stagnant systems like France and Italy as a comparison. Not so long ago, sales tax was 0... What next... A 20% vat for 'fairness'?

    I am against any increase in anyone's tax since I see the damage of out of control local gov promises, only to be followed by higher taxes on everyone. If we are to tax the rich more symbolically, the that has to go directly to reducing taxes on non rich tax payees and not fed, state or local gov. I am ok with this and that would be even more equitable.

  9. So, Republicans are worried that if taxes are raised on capital gains, jobs will be lost because the rich won't invest as much. Simple, tax the capital gains at the same rate as income, since it IS income. Then create a program where that extra money will be utilized to solely create jobs. This can be done in several ways: the government (state and federal) can create the jobs; a rebate on a portio on the money to job creators who invest that money in new jobs. Either way, taxes are equalized and jobs can be created.

  10. With taxes at historic lows, how would we undertake a huge and costly project like building the highway interstate system today?

    Eisenhower on taxes: “Although old guard conservatives pressed Eisenhower to cut taxes [the top rate was 91 percent], the president gave a higher priority to balancing the budget. The economy expanded robustly during most of the 1950s. Unemployment was generally low, and inflation usually was 2 percent or less. Eisenhower had moderate success—three of his eight budgets were in the black.” http://millercenter.org/president/eisenhower/essays/biography/4

    What principle in economics says that a speculator pay a much lower tax rate than people who work for a living? Fixing this inequity would raise $70 billion a year. Congress should end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. $58 billion is lost annually.

    Asking those on Wall Street who caused this recession and the global meltdown due to their reckless and illegal behavior to pay a modest financial transaction tax would generate at least $150 billion a year. A currency manipulation fee for China and other low-wage countries would raise $50 billion a year.

    According to Citizens for Tax Justice, extending the Bush tax cuts for another decade will cost $5.5 trillion. The idea of giving an average tax break of $125,000 a year to millionaires is bad policy. Why not expire “most” of the tax cuts and do away with the shortsighted spending cuts that will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable and politically weakest in our society?

    At a minimum, Congress should rescind the tax breaks for the top 2 percent. It would generate $70 billion annually. The media has done a poor job of explaining that one would pay the higher rate “only” on the income above $250,000.

  11. Just getting rid of all the loop-holes and deductions would be a big step in the right direction. Of course it would put a lot of tax lawyers out of business, but who cares?
    And,by the way republicans, lower taxes on the wealthy does not crate jobs. Never has, never will. What higher taxes will do is cause more money to be stashed in off shore banks by the more unscrupulous and greedy.

  12. I have some problems with the tax on millionaires: (1) buried in it will be a tax on people who are not millionaires, (2) it will not be inflation adjusted, so that one way or another it will affect those who are not milliionaires, and (3) the real problem is too much spending, not the lack of revenue. Sixty percent of the US budget is handouts. Twenty-five percent relates to defense, security, and the like. Everything else is run with about fifteen percent of the budget. The biggest one in need of cuts is the handouts.

  13. Republicans and some Democrats are phony deficit hawks. Rather than end loopholes like offshore tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and other countries ($100 billion is lost each year), they want to siphon off (steal) money from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for large and unwise tax cuts, two endless wars, a bloated military budget, a Medicare drug bill giveaway to Big Pharma, and a bailout for the crooks on Wall Street who caused this recession. That’s Robin Hood in reverse. David Cay Johnston, a columnist for Tax.com, debunks the myth that tax cuts are good for the economy:

    So How Did the Bush Tax Cuts Work Out for the Economy?
    http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/CHAS-89LPZ9?OpenDocument

    “The [Bush] tax cuts did “not” spur investment. Job growth in the George W. Bush years was one-seventh that of the Clinton years. Wages fell during the last administration. Average incomes fell. The number of Americans in poverty, as officially measured, hit a 16-year high [in 2009] of 43.6 million, though a National Academy of Sciences study says that the real poverty figure is closer to 51 million. Americans and their governments are drowning in debt. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.

    “So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the ‘lamestream media,’ who treat these policies as worthy ideas?”

  14. According to the article (and the CBO) the 400 richest earn around five thousand times more than the average, yet pay at a rate only 3% more. If a small change (3%) in this tiny group (0.1% of the total) would have the major economic effects that Republicans claim to fear, it's clear that the country is even more of an oligarchy than we thought.

  15. As a result, the effective federal tax rate, including payroll taxes, for the wealthiest 0.01 percent of earners fell to 31.5 percent in 2005, from 42.9 percent in 1979, according to data from the Congressional Budget Office."

    Of course if you include so called "Payroll Taxes" for Social Security, which stop being assessed on income above a ceiling of approximately $106,000 it is easy to skew this percentage analysis. But Social Security is supposed to be an earned benefit in which citizens receive back contributions (plus a conceptual time value factor) which they have made. If we start assessing FICA against higher and higher incomes whose contributors will never receive an equivalent return, we change the program from an earned benefit to a straightforward welfare program and, in my opinion, that would be a terrible thing for the American identity.

    Mushing income takes and payroll taxes together in discussing "fairness" of contribution is disingenuous.

  16. If lower taxes don't create jobs how then do higher taxes create jobs? Class warfare is being fed us constantly. Even if they pay higher taxes there is no way they could be taxed enough to put a dent in our current deficit. We need to quit spending, start drilling and jobs will take care of themselves. Everyone should pay some sort of federal tax or not vote. A person should never get back more than they pay in but they do every year. The government is already redistributing our money through taxation. Doesn't it make sense that the 47% that aren't paying federal tax and getting more back are going to vote in the socialist leaning party? We are destroying our country.

  17. Who are they kidding?? Lower taxes on the wealthy doesn't mean there will magically be more jobs for the rabble (the rest of us); it just leaves buckets of money for their already spoiled and entitled kids to go to $40,00/year colleges and to go globe-trotting to have exotic "experiences" while the rest of the un-entitled clean up after them. I know.

  18. It would seem even Mr. Buffett is not comparing apples to apples. Taxing earnings on money all ready taxed, as in capital gains and dividends is not the same as taxing earned income. If we work we pay a higher percentage than if we do not work at the same income level. That is because we pay Social Security and Medicare taxes as well as income taxes. For some workers, the lower income folks, these may be the only taxes they pay. For the higher paid, they do not pay these taxes after a certain income, giving them a percentage advantage over lesser paid folks. (The reason for the cutoff is that we don't want these 'rich people' to be getting $10,000 a month in SS benifits when they retire.)

    Then come the deductions. Richer people tend to have higher deductions because they pay more in property taxes and interest on their homes. This still doesn't mean they pay less taxes, just smaller percentages in some cases.

    It is decried that raising taxes on the rich doesn't slow investment, the rich hoard their money, etc. Well, when was the last time you created a job? Did you do it with your savings, a loan, or your famill's lawnmower? It all took someones money to accomplish. Even the IRS will tell you that a job without income is only a hobby!

    Someone has to be paying people to work before there is a demand fullfilled. We may all want solar power, but very few of us are going out building solar panels to put on our roofs. We are buying them from someone that put up money to hire people to build them for us. Before they were build, someone else designed them, invested in the factory, and actually, someone created the demand for them by telling us they were available to replace other forms of energy.

    I will say again that we are missing the point, what we need is governmental spending cuts. Raising taxes just gives investment money over to a spending machine that is ever hungry for new fodder.

  19. "Conservatives strongly oppose President Obama’s call for a tax on millionaires, but there are signs that Americans may be more open to the idea."

    Aha! Interpreting that phrase in a different light justifies my feeling that Conservatives aren't really "Americans" at all. The Conservative oligarchs aim to rule this country for their own benefit, and if America becomes a Third World Country as a result, all the better...they aggrandize more power. They are not real Americans; to them, America is just a cash cow. The people who follow them are simply being led to the slaughter.

  20. Mr. Buffet needs a math lesson or he is improperly taxing his employees. A married person earning118,200 claiming the standard deduction will pay $23,356 in income and payroll taxes for an effective rate of 19.75%. A married person earning $375,000 with the standard deduction will pay $107,070 in combined federal and payroll taxes for a rate of 28.55%. I understand he wants the rich to pay more in taxes but his math is completely wrong. And these examples indicate the maximum tax. Maybe someone should tell the president to stop the quoting of Buffet because pretty soon everyone is going to know he is wrong.

  21. Since Republicans and their ilk feel taxing millionaires and corporations will increase unemployment and destroy economic growth, why not take this opinion to its logical conclusion and not tax the rich and corporations at all. Make the poor pay all the taxes. Even better, have the government give the rich subsidies so that we can have full employment.

  22. The Bush/Reagan tax cuts for the rich certainly worked ... for the rich. After 30 years of tax cuts, the top 1% has gone from owning 22% to 40% of the nation's wealth. If putting money in the hands of the "job creators" truly trickles down to good jobs and salaries, it should have worked by now. Instead since those tax cuts started, average GDP growth is down 25%, we 9% unemployment, we have the worst recession in 80 years, and for the first time in generations, the median income is going down.

    What really happened was the favored tax treatment for investment and it's resulting wealth concentration caused several supply-and-demand fueled investment bubbles which burst triggering a recession each time. That's exactly what happened in the 1920's when the GOP slashed taxes on the rich, the to 1% got 40% of the wealth, the stock market soared then tanked, triggering the 10 year Great Depression.

    The GOP/Reagan/Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are the real failed stimulus package, adding 7 trillion to the national debt. That's 50% of our national debt. It's also 10 times what the Obama stimulus cost. At least his stimulus saved the economy (that the GOP created) from going over the cliff.

    See the fix for all this: http://fairsharetaxes.org

  23. My confusion over the conservative argument that higher taxes on "job creators" will kill jobs, is based on the fact that these individuals and corporations (who are people too) have had lower tax rates for the past 8 years, yet unemployment has been going up, as have lay-offs, so they're not actually creating new jobs, they're eliminating them. Maybe it's time to stop doing the same thing (another conservative phrase) and try a new tax system.

  24. Did Mr Kocieniewski really do any serious research in putting this story together--or did he just read a press release from the Heritage Foundation and then get a couple of quotes to flush it out?

    For starters--the premise put forward by Kocieniewski and his source, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, that Americans "...going all the way back to no taxation without representation...tolerate a greater inequality in terms of wealth. There is more opposition to tax increases, even when rates are low."

    The facts don't support that.

    For starters--the founders, in response to their roots in a British society where wealth was highly concentrated--and ossified--at the top, were deeply distrustful of and determined to avoid the creation of an American aristocracy of wealth.

    For example, Thomas Jefferson--in a letter to Reverend James Madison--stated:

    "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise."

    The fact of the matter is that America tolerated--and the middle class prospered more broadly than ever before--or since--when this country embraced a highly progressive tax code--where the top rates on the highest incomes were more than double what they are now.

    The fact of the matter is that the limited opposition in this country to raising tax rates on people who are--by any definition--rich, isn't just demonstrated by poll after poll after poll--but by the furious scrambling on the right to find some rhetorical wrench into the efforts to raise those rates--scrambling from the "it's class warfare" canard to the "that would hurt the job creators" and "why punish success" red herrings to their favorite line of late "now is no time to raise ANYBODIES taxes."

  25. Even Obama said that you don;t raise taxes in teh middle of a recession. Now he has changed his tune. this recession will not magically end in 2012. Yet he wants to increase income taxes on higher income earners, and his latest proposal calls for an end to the Bush tax cuts, which will result in tax increases for anyone who pays income taxes, including the middle class. Look at the details of his plan, people. Taxing millionaires will not even put a noticeable dent in the federal deficit, and the miniscule proposed cuts in social services and entitlements are a drop in the bucket.

  26. Does the effective tax rate analysis in the multimedia graph in this article include the social security taxes as well as the income tax? If not, it really underestimates the unfairness of the current tax system and underestimates how much taxes are paid by low income salary workers.

  27. Republicans like to repeat their mantra that "we shouldn't raise taxes on billionaires and huge corporations at times like these."

    But these times are the best ever for large corporations and billionaires--after all, they're the ones who have all the money in the economy.

    So there's no recession for them at all. If this isn't the time to get our money back then I can't imagine when it would be.

  28. We need an efficient means to recycle the wealth that will always, over time, ineluctably, coalesce and then stagnate in the vaults of the wealthy (those who, by birth, brains, luck and work, simply accrue most of it in their lifetimes), and put it back into the hands of the newest generation, who are all capable of inventing and creating great value from their work, ingenuity, risk-taking and collaboration.
    And this can, and should be, done without the goverment going through the motions of some type of government project, because such projects are inefficient, vulnerable to corruption and lobbying, and really unnecessary.
    Instead, at the end of a wealthy person's life, apply a 90 percent estate tax on all amounts above $10 million, and use that money to directly fund a national college education scholarship fund, which give every American child, at birth, $10,000 deposit to be saved for used for their first year in a degree granting college or trade school, and then also provide annual supplements to each student who maintains the grades to stay in these colleges and post-secondary institutionsl of learning.
    No bureaucrats, no other agenda, no lobbyists, no no-bid contracts, no bridges to anywhere, just the simple recirculation of our society's wealth, so that new eager minds and souls will make the most of it. Like a fountain. Like the human body's circulation system -- heart, blood, lungs, and brain.

  29. “Still, there are some indications that Americans may be more open to tax increases on the affluent. One recent poll by The Associated Press and CNBC found that Americans feel they are less likely to become millionaires, making them more willing to embrace a tax on that group.”

    The poll you cite in the article did not ask whether the participants support raising taxes on the wealthy. Here are some polls from a couple of months ago:

    NBC News/Wall Street Journal:
    - 81 percent responded that is totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to impose a surtax on millionaires to reduce the deficit
    - 68 percent believe it is totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to phase out the Bush tax cuts for families earning over $250,000 a year

    Washington Post and ABC News:
    - 72 percent support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 to reduce the national debt

    Boston Globe:
    - 73 percent support raising taxes on people making over $250,000 a year

  30. Australia has a similar tax code to what Obama is describing and they have had just one down quarter over the past four years while we have been severely struggling.
    Outside of the top 10% (who are definitely far richer than Australia's top 10%), the rest of Australia's population is far better off than us. They have higher salaries and more disposable income per person. As a result, they have a sustainable economy, very few bad areas or "ghettos", very little crime and almost full employment.

    In 2007 the top 1% of America controlled 24% of the nation's wealth. The only time a discrepancy in wealth has approached this level before was in 1929, where the top 1% controlled 23% of the nation's wealth...and we all know how that worked out in 1929.

    Now, I don't know if upping the tax on the rich is definitely the answer to our issues, I do, however, know that if something is not done about the discrepancy between the rich and poor in America, we are headed for a long, dark decline.

  31. Regardless of what the income tax rates are, the FACT is that for several decades going back to the 40s, 50s (where the highest tax bracket was 93%), revenues from taxes have only averaged 18% of GDP. I'm sorry you left out this inconvenient fact.

  32. Flat Tax PERIOD. Very simple let's say 15%. You make 1 dollar a year you pay 15 cents you make $10k you pay $1.5k you make 1 million you pay $150k and so on. Close the loopholes and all the rest of it and everyone pays something.

    I am sick of this entitlement mentality that we have created in this country. Also this class warfare is rediculous. I don't think that because someone who does very well for themselves and makes millions should pay 30% taxes just because they make alot of money vs someone who makes 20K a year part-time. We all have choices we make in life some good and some bad people who work hard and make more then others shouldn't be penalized or over taxed because of it.

    I'm tired of paying more then my fair share so that people can sit on there butts and collect money.

  33. Right on, Jerry!

    Giving tax incentives to the rich is dubious policy and does not create jobs. If you give a million dollars to someone who already has many millions he will more likely buy another Monet or some other 'investment', but give ten thousand to a hundred citizens and they will more likely buy a new refrigerator, or car, or remodel their bathroom - real job-supporting activities.

    The so-called 'trickle down' economics, coupled with unregulated 'free markets' has given us 'trickle up' results and a world class recession. Hasn't the Republication economic model under George W. proven itself a clear failure? Why do we try to return to it?

    By the way, the best way to 'create jobs' is for increased consumer demand to encourage banks to lend and small business to hire. The only direct way that the Government creates jobs is to create 'New Deal' type works programs or Universal Public Service (an idea whose time has yet to come). The indirect way the Government is involved is through tax policy that supports the working family; that is, the American consumer.

  34. And let the tax be a hefty one......

  35. We have to pay for the two wars we are in. They are responsible for half our debt. It is un-American to not sacrifice like people did in WWI and WWII. I believe we all should be taxed more to pay for these and we should all think about how little we sacrifice compared to the young who have sacrificed everything they have. We are in war and we all need to act like it.

  36. I've often wondered why we don't treat capital gains as income. Why not tax the gains on a sliding scale as we do income taxes? Doing that won't hurt the small investor.

  37. The notion that a tax on the incomes of millionaires and billionaires will inhibit investment and job growth needs to be debunked. The arguments against it are obvious:

    (1) The markets are awash with money. There is no shortage of venture capital; it is ready for any good idea that shows its head. Mark Zukerberg did not have to go out after capital, it came after him.

    (2) Wealth does not produce jobs. Jobs produce wealth. Bill Gates' billions did not start up Microsoft. Taxing some of his billions of income will not inhibit anything but his charitable foundations.

    The GOP has started up this illogical mantra because it protects its customers- oops, "supporters" - from government meddling. The FOP supporters feel that the billions extracted each year from product sales belongs to them personally, not to the people who had no choice but to pay their price.

    Are you listening, Barack?

  38. I'm OK with the rich paying a higher percentage of income in taxes than the less rich, but (1) as shown in the graphic attached to this article, that is already happening, so the question is just whether the rich should pay an even greater, higher percentage than they do now, (2) the less rich (and yes, even the poor) should pay a fair percentage of income in tax, because they too must contribute to the government of their country, and (3) much of the confusion here stems from the fact that income is not the perfect basis for a tax to begin with (nor is property, for that matter), and the right way to approach fair taxation is not through income tax changes alone, but through a comprehensive look at all taxes -- from local property tax to state sales and income tax to federal income tax, for both individuals and businesses. If I have a ton of cash and a great house and no debt but little income, because I am just spending off money I earned a long time ago, should I be paying much lower taxes than the younger person who has just reached a point where he makes a big salary, but who has a ton of debt and little cash? If I am an adult making no money and living for free with my extended family, should I be allowed to live essentially tax-free, even though I enjoy the same benefits of society as the person who is killing herself working multiple jobs to support a family, and who pays income taxes? These are tough questions with no easy answers.

  39. Comments for a tax on millionaires outweigh no increase in taxes (which is expected). As one who is on the other side of the fence" - that is a millionaire many times over (who, by the way pays no tax - more on that later) - my fears are twofold:

    a) When "Peters" outnumber the "Pauls" its all over (assuming "Paul pays Peter" and we have a democracy where most can vote)

    b) Millionaires will simply move or dodge the taxes (I am a good example)

    Millionaires tend to be very smart and are not fools (they are at least once removed from a fool). Current IRS laws are at best made by fools (or they appear so) (Proof: current tax on $0 of income is $0 even though the assets owned may be millions).

    In any case, do whatever (just keep the system going, lest I have to move to Switzerland, or Luxembourg, or ... well you get the idea)

  40. Poster #3 says: " the rich already pay a much higher proportion of their income in taxes."
    NO. They don't. And a note to the NYT - stupid, simple graphic isn't educating or informing, it continues to represent only a small piece of the pie and misinforms. The NYT graphic is only FEDERAL taxes.

    For 2010, at $220k a year, I paid a higher TOTAL tax rate than millionaires. My effective total tax rate (state, local, federal) was 31.3%. For those who make $1million+ it was 30.0%. (see chart here for total tax rates: www.ctj.org/pdf/taxday2011.pdf). And that is not counting all of the breaks they got on capital gains. With capital gains, they pay more like 22%.
    Last I checked, 22% is lower than 32%. Thusly, millionaires are indeed paying a lower tax rate.

    That is the point. Republicans I talk to are always saying: sure, or course everyone wants to tax millionaires...as long as someone else pays their way.
    Kind of like poster #5 above.
    But no, no, no! We just want them to pay their fair share. There should be a minimum millionaire tax, so they do not get to use tricks set in place by wealthy politicians which were essentially bribed to put into place lower tax rates than the folks in the middle of the tax bracket. As for the poor...give me a break. Demanding a flat tax is absurd...it's hard enough to get by living on $25k a year. Asking for 30% of that is like insult to injury.

  41. If the Republicans say raising taxes as suggested by Obama is class warfare, then let the war begin.

  42. The middle class has been eroding for years. Why? They have been subsidizing both the rich and the poor -- and doing so with mostly stagnant incomes.

  43. The real terror threat for this country is not terrorist in other countries it is the anti intellectuals who will destroy the very foundations of this country was built on.

  44. A point on language usage: The article and many of the comments refer to some as "rich" or "millionaires." The GOP has determined that these terms are unacceptable class-warfare-inspiring language. The new correct substitute terms are (respectively) "job creators" and "really important job creators."

  45. Please ignore my last post - I see that all payroll taxes were included.

  46. what about the imputed corporate tax (tax paid by companies) ?
    The CBO data, referenced recently by both G Mankiw and P Krugman, shows that the total tax burden as a % of income, is high for high wage earners because the CBO says that the tax paid by companies (GE [well,not GE] etc) is , effectively, paid by the people who own the companies; this is the "imputed corporate tax". Since the wealthy own stock, they pay this tax, when you include it, is is a large part of the tax burden of wealthy individuals.

    I have no position one way or the other, but I think it is a little misleading for P Krugman to cite CBO data without at least mentioning that he is aware of this.

  47. It's time. It's fair and it's the smart thing to do. Those who have enriched themselves off a system that is
    struggling must pay their share to save that system. You cannot strangle those least able to pay when
    higher taxes will hardly leave a scratch on the super wealthy. Enough of the alligator tears and shameful
    obfuscation by the GOP. Our country is at a crossroads. President Obama is right. We must accept facts.

  48. Wage/price freeze anyone?

    You all do know that the escalating real estate prices of the last 30 years is what has created big economic problems -- as well as all of the bottomless pits called WARS in which we are involved. Of course, bailing out those banks with no penalties was not so smart either.

  49. We Hold These Inequalities To Be Self-Evident

    The United States was the last country in the West to preserve the "peculiar institution" of chattel slavery. Today it continues to be the Western bastion of many peculiar institutions--from the death penalty to personal weaponry, from regressive taxation to monstrous CEO salaries--all modern outgrowths of patriarchy, dominance, and violent hierarchy. Our nation, and in particular its right wingers, libertarians, and Market Brutalists will continue to preserve, by violence if necessary, the maximum inequality compatible with an advanced modern nation. Any law of policy that threatens to increase the equality between citizens will meets with nearly pathological resistance.

  50. get with the program. tax increases are a must in harsh economic times and hold a proven record of success. paying taxes is the most patiotic action the rich can take.

  51. Here is another way to look at the "tax the rich" issue. If the top earners are controlling 80% of the wealth in this country and there is still high unemployment what are they doing with their money? They are probably investing in emerging markets, which means that the money doesn't trickle down for Americans, but it does create jobs elsewhere. Therefore you cannot have growth and lower the national debt until you restore the middle class's earning power.

    Tax rates are the lowest they have every been. I make a good living and I itemize and quite frankly I was shocked this year when I did my taxes that they were as low as they were. If people at the top and even some of those who are merely upper middle class were honest, we could pay more without crimping our life style. I would be happy to pay more, if it meant that our educational institutions were fully funded, that unemployment was extended until we get out of this mess, and that I didn't have to worry when I drove over our now crumbling infrastructure.

    For those on this board who complain about government spending, please do some reading. Under Bush the government outsourced much of what used to be done by government employees under the idea that "the markets do better." Now reports have come out on how much waste this has resulted in. Perhaps we need to invest in our civil servants once more, who often do the same jobs and do it without cost over-runs and at lower because they want to serve our country are not worried make a outrageous profit.

    If you think that I am wrong, I suggest that you look at the cost of delivering medicare as compared to the cost of delivering "for profit" health insurance.

  52. One of the main reasons the economy is not "working" right now is precisely because of the tax code, but it has nothing to do about tax percentage rates, it has to do about the tax code causing businesses to make bad business decisions about saving on taxes and directing resources in inefficient and unprofitable ways. The system is essentially constipated and misdirected, the "free hand that manages best" is corrupted by special interest groups with the aide of lawyers, the latter group creating huge frictional costs on the economy. No wonder lawyers have the biggest PAC.

    As Obama pointed out in his taxation speech, the tax code is five feet tall. It is also riddled with ambiguity, even on seemingly clear cut issues. At the core, this document is all about __loopholes__ for special interests. These loopholes should be closed before taxes are raised. The tax code should be replaced by a single page document that raises taxes in times of warfare and is progressive in nature, just like in the good old days! That is the __only__ way the economy is going to get going again. Taxes are essentially that horrible hypothetical person, looking over your shoulder, telling you how to do your job.

    I need to hire Buffets tax lawyer, or perhaps start some tax loss businesses. My effective tax rate is @ 50% in any given year, assuming I actually _make_ money that year, by the time I add in sales, local, property, state, and federal taxes. The article should also point out that by lowering taxes and adding benefits on the biggest voting blocks in America, the poor and middle class, Obama is buying votes. Programs have costs, and this group should be made aware of that. Apparently 50% of the population is paying _no_ taxes.

  53. A recent article in the NYT indicated that the budget shortfall in California was due, in part, to an over-reliance on the tax revenue from the most affluent. While high, the incomes of the affluent are generally extremely variable from year to year and therefore don't provide the steady revenue which the public sector depends on. While we have very real problems with our society and economy, over-reliance on tax revenue provided by the most affluent is an undeserved panacea. Cities, states and now the federal government are seeking to solve problems which are often of their own creation (e.g. underfunded public pensions, escalating public debt)by scape-goating one segment of society and telling the majority that 'things will be fine.' It's that inability to face reality that caused all the explosion of public (and private) debt in the first place.

  54. You espouse a millionaires' tax as being essential for more fairness. What is fair about my voting myself a raft of benefits for which I cannot pay but will require someone else to pay for me? Do I have a valid claim on the income of anyone else other than myself?

    By all measures you care to mention, all of which are readily available to anyone caring to look, and all easily verifiable as accurate, the rich already pay far greater percentages of their income in taxes than do those in lower earnings categories, and they pay higher percentages of all taxes than their income is to all personal income. Frankly, these calls for fairness have absolutely nothing to do with that concept.

    The left wants levels of benefits and state spending for which the population at large is not willing to pay, so it is whipping up class resentment and pretending that by taking more from some hypothetical class of the wealthy, that can be done without disturbing the populace at large.

    Frankly, besides being morally reprehensible, that is first and foremost a blatant falsehood as our current spending patterns are unsupportable even were we to confiscate every single dime of the income of those earning $250K and above. Yes, we probably need more revenue, including from those we call rich, but the real problem is spending and it is time to stop pretending otherwise.

  55. We are beginning to realize that the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is inhibiting job growth. The billions held by individuals must be put in the hands of the consumer. Increased spendable income will lead to increased demand, which will expand sales and the nation's economy. Allowing these billionaires to sit on their property rights will lead to continued stagnation.

    As I see it, there are two ways to redirect this wealth into the economy without engaging in confiscation.

    Taxing high incomes is the simplest and easiest. Unfortunately, this puts money into the government's hands not consumer's hands. But government programs can be set up to purchase infrastructure and research and development of common goods.

    The second way is more difficult. It requires the government to straighten out the stock markets and make them safe for ordinary people. When the middle class can realize a reasonable and reliable return on its money, it will have greater spendable income. Money is fungible; increased investment returns for retirement will release dollars for a new car.

    Chances of the government carrying out a simple tax increase on high incomes are slim. The chances of stock market reform are even slimmer.

  56. Maybe, at last, Americans are beginning to realize that they are not going to become millionaires. This realization might make them more amenable to making the rich pay their fair share of taxes and sacrifice along with the rest of us. After all, it wasn't poor people who wrecked the economy.

  57. This article doesn't fairly represent the middle class person's situation because it fails to take into account a number of factors that affect disposable income, such as state tax, local tax, social security tax, medicare tax, and the many adjustments, expense deductions, tax credits, and the like that are applicable only to rich people. Additionally, many living costs are not progressive in nature such as food, medical care, child care, and transportation. I understand that these factors are hard to quantify succinctly but if their effects were included it would be apparent that a middle class person is even less well off relative to a rich person than this article implies.

  58. For all of my working life I never earned a gross salary/wages of more than US$26,000. Yet my federal tax rate varied between 22 percent and 11 percent of my gross income. I had very few deductions (no mortgage), no medical expenses (no health insurance) since eat healthy foods (I am not a vegetarian or vegan.) and have always exercised with some regularity.

    I always felt there was a problem with the tax system when friends who earned in excess of $50,000, when $50K was a significant amount of income, and paid 10 percent or less of their income in federal income taxes.

    It is time to right this wrong and have very wealthy people pay their fair share.

    Additionally, everyone, should pay into the FICA/Social Security & Medicare trust funds based on their total income including investment capital gains as income.

    In one swell swoop we would most likely be able to assure continued solvency for these very important programs which contribute to the economy. By the way, my Social Security payment is just over US$1000. gross and when the Medicare payment is taken out the net is about US$850.

    As physicians, Congressmen Paul Ryan & John Boehner are beneficiaries of the Medicare & Medicaid system they so willingly want to dismantle. Perhaps they will accept me mowing their lawn in exchange for medical care services.

  59. Taxes during the Bush'43 years and the Obama years are lower than taxes during the clinton years. If tax cuts create jobs, then where are the freaking jobs? I sure would like to know because last month, the number of jobs created was ZERO. Corporations are sitting on a pile of cash, and that pile is getting bigger even as we speak. All this talk about more tax cutting and a tax holiday will simply mean, if implemente, that the corporations will simply be sitting on an even larger pile of cash without having to create a single job in the United States. Ditto for wealthy individuals whose wealth is oh so precious. Tax-wise, they are doing better than ever, and how many jobs did they create last month? ZERO.

    My attitude is that if the corporations and weaalthy individuals just care about piling up the wealth without creating any jobs, then they don't need the wealth they have. We need to tax it so that we can put it to work. Maybe - maybe not, the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. But if the private sector is not lifting a finger, the question is academic. It is better that we do something with the public sector, even if there ae inefficiencies, than we watch the private sector sit on his hands while the country's economy goes down the tubes.

    My message to the corporations and the wealthy individuals who vote Republican is straightforward: do something for the economy with the money you piled up. Or else.

  60. Unless txaes are deducted from their pay, many if not most Europeans underpay their taxes. This is especially true in Italy, which has a debt burden greater that of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain combined and is the next country of concern in the euro-zone.

  61. Great. More taxes. How about cutting spending too (which has not happened). The spending cuts are almost always cuts in the increase in spending.

    Millionaires who think they should pay more taxes can simply write a check to the government.

    Jobs is the answer (short of moving to a equal flat tax rate applied to everyone except perhaps the very poor). Jobs creates more taxpayers, so incentives to create jobs (like reducing the capital gains tax, reducing the income tax on businesses, etc.) is what's needed.

    Obama using Warren Buffet on this is ridiculous. Buffet still pays federal income tax rate (more than his secretary unless he takes a salary less than his secretary). HIs lower tax rate is on dividends, not on income. It is disingenuous (even a lie) of Obama to equate these two tax rates.

  62. MWittry wrote, “I've often wondered why we don't treat capital gains as income. Why not tax the gains on a sliding scale as we do income taxes? Doing that won't hurt the small investor.”

    The moneyed class has gotten a good return on their money by investing in Washington’s political capital. We need a constitutional amendment so that our elections are publicly funded and a ban of at least seven years for elected officials and their staff from abusing the revolving door between government and the private sector.

  63. Object to the headline - it's not "the U.S." that opposes the tax - it's Republican politicians. I believe polls show that the majority of people in the country support raising taxes on the rich. There is an obstacle, but it isn't the general public.

  64. Raising taxes on 450,000 very privileged Americans should be a no-brainer. Yet Republicans will not evaluate this proposal on its merits for sure simply because the President proposed it. What is a more bothersome thought, however, is what percentage of the rich affected Americans are Jews and what influence they will wield to defeat it.

  65. Could we please acknowledge that some states have income taxes adding approx. 10% to the total taxes on income? Could we also recognize that the AMT limits deductions for those who must pay it, and property taxes also support government at the state and local level? Taken together, federal, state, property and payroll taxes (with the AMT considered), some people can be paying 40% or more of their incomes in taxes, not counting sales taxes. The charts and graphs don't deal with the disparities in state taxes.

  66. Interest rates are currently so low, little wealth of the richest people is needed to "create jobs". Furthermore, the rich have little ability to increase consumption further. The poor and unemployed, on the other hand, have huge unmet needs: food, shelter, education....but no funds to pay for that. Income redistribution alone, at this point, could stimulate economic growth.

  67. Discussions of the tax paid as a percentage of "income" usually fail to clarify that there are several definitions of income. In the Internal Revenue Code, the tax rate is applied to "taxable income". But that amount is not the income earned by by a person for his services or on the property he owns. "Taxable income" is after deductions and exemptions in the Internal Revenue Code. An example of a deduction is the mortgage interest deduction. The interest on several homes a person might own, examples such as McCain or Romney, has nothing to do with the income he earns. So the tax rates often discussed in the media are not indicative of the tax rate on the income they earn, or Adjusted Gross Inomce" in the Internal Revenue Code. Plus there are credits allowed for various reasons.
    Steve

  68. The media, is, in large part, to blame for the fact that we have the greatest disparity in wealth since the 1920's or perhaps ever. The Republican Debates demonstrate how the media allows lies to be broadcast over and over with little countervailing questioning or clarification. And we should all know that a lie repeated and amplified often enough, will become "truth". This is what the media are responsible for. It's why The Daily Show and Colbert Report are so successful and have become outlets for dispensing news that cuts through the lies. And finally, for every story about some meaningless aspect of a celebrity's life and every story about a girl gone missing and the like, the media deletes an important story or relegates it to the back pages (google under reported stories of 2010 for an example).

  69. This is the best campaign issue the Democrats have. The facts show that since the Bush tax cuts, we've lost millions of jobs. The so called "job creators" or wealthy and corporate elite have not had to pay their fair share in over 30 years. During that time their fortunes have about qudrupled, while the rest of us have lost ground. It only seems fair that they should give something back to the society they made their money in. America is finally starting to wake up to the fact that the Republicans would rather perserve tax cuts for the rich, while insisting on austerity for the rest of us. There actions have finally caught up with them. Hopefully we can send most of them home in 2012 and start thinking about the nation as a whole again.

  70. Professor Reuven S. Avi-Yonah is quoted,“But going all the way back to no taxation without representation, Americans have had a mistrust of government".

    This statement needs to be qualified. After the Seven Year's War (1763), Britian looked to the American colonies for revenue. The Founding Fathers were men of wealth and influence in their respective colonies and therefore had the most to lose. Despite employing the rhetorical flourishes of Locke and Rousseau, the Founding Fathers were oligarchs and the American Revolution was fought and the Constitution written to preserve their power. American history since the Federal period has been progressive. The conservative Republicans of the last 30 years are trying, and succeeding, in reversing the political gains of American democracy and economic gains of the middle class and poor.

  71. Warren Buffet won't pay more tax unless the capital gains tax is raised...maybe kep is at 15% for those with capital gains smaller than 30K, then start increasing it. also, for social security and medicare, keep tax as is and then after 250,000 in wages, restart collecting it on the employer side...I don't know how much either of these would raise, but I would be interested to know...

  72. That graphic is very difficult to parse.

  73. One assumption that appears to be implicit is that the wealthy should pay more than everyone else, regardless of whether they are receiving more in services from the Federal Government or not. Even if they pay a lower percentage of their income, they are most likely still paying more money than the poor simply because they have more income subject to tax. The tax that would be "fairest" to all would be some sort of head tax, based on the premise that we should all pay the same to support our government. What should really be said is not which is "fairest", but which is "most politically expedient to collect" which is a tax on the smallest minority of people voting.

  74. Please define 'income' for tax purposes:

    If your bond pays exactly the inflation rate, do you actually have any income?

    If you lose $10 in year 1 and make it back in year 2, do you have any income?

    Does 'appreciation' in the house that cost 4 years of wages in 1980 and still costs 4 years of wages count as 'income'?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Our tax code was designed in the early 20th century to measure true economic income:

    sales (of labor and stuff) - expenses - depreciation + gains or losses on disposition of property

    When one introduces pooling of interests (partnerships, marriages), high and steeply progressive tax rates, and various loopholes, it creates massive economic distortions that completely overwhelm the benefits of the higher tax rates.

    Witness now, when highly educated women with kids don't work, hedge funds create 'carried interest', automakers get massive tax breaks/bailouts, etc.

    The Buffett rule just makes this worse.

  75. Regardinig the "class warfare" charge, it was the Republicans who started with all the union-busting measures and attacks on government workers. If you want to see who are the real class warriors, look no further than at the GOP.

  76. The article ended strangely. Near the end, it stated the statistical facts from the IR office, then ended with opinion from some right wing economist? Was that supposed to be for "balance?" Facts are balanced by opinion? Strange journalism going on here.

  77. The fight over the effects of taxation is really over one issue. Do you, as a taxpayer, think that government can do better with your tax money than you in providing for your family?

    Is there a law of diminishing returns when it comes to government? Or, if some taxes are good more is better. Obviously the government is there for the basics (military, courts, police etc.)and that much the majority can agree on. The real question is at what point does the government become less effective and should leave a certain task to the market and private innovation?

    If you believe that the government is supposed to provide for any type of redistribution of wealth, you beleive, in a shade of gray of socialism. (Obviously, the more redistribution, the more socialistic leanings of the person.) On the other end of the spectrum, if you believe that the corporation or rich person does not have special priviledges accorded it through lobbying (something a poor person cannot effectively accomplish on their own behalf) or other priviledged means and therefore the tax issue should be based solely on what percentage a person pays, then you are a corporatist.(crony capatalism)

    The inherent problem with either of these ideas is that both keep the government from doing what it is supposed to be doing. Preserve the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. To steal a phrase from Bastiat, it is legal plunder. When you can obtain, through taxation for example, someone elses money, that you did not earn through your own merit, it is legalized theft. My brother, when we were kids, took a pocket calculator of mine. When he was confronted about it, he replied, "but you already have one!" Is this not stealing? And yet is this not the very premise of progressive taxation? That the rich already have money so lets give some of theirs to the poor? No matter your view on philanthropy, this is no less a theft of someones property than my brothers theft of my calculator. continued below...

  78. If the enormous cash piles of wealthy corporations and individuals really create jobs - WHERE ARE THE JOBS? 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 now -- we've been waiting four years since the greedy top 1% crashed our economy, and that whole four years they've been wailing, "No, no, don't touch a cent of our stash, that's job-creatin' money!" Well, if they were ever planning to "create jobs" with that money, they've had four years and it's fair to say they've utterly failed.

    The fact is that money does not create jobs just sitting in a bank or brokerage. Period. And people who are already wealthy and sitting on a huge pile of cash that can (thanks to the Republicans) be used to create a tax-free dynasty have absolutely no INCENTIVE to create a single job. Thus, while it is the labor and sacrifice of the other 99% that made their success possible, the plutocrats of our new gilded age are perfectly willing to jump in their gilded lifeboats while the rest of us go down with the Titanic.

  79. The wealthy have been getting a break for a long time now. So, where are the jobs that they supposedly can create? This attitude that you owe nothing to the country that made you wealthy is just contributing to the economic terrorism that is taking place in the U.S..

  80. Equal taxes for the Super-Rich is not enough. To help pay for hugest debt in U.S. history after WWII and during the Eisenhower years, people with incomes over $400,000 (about $3 Million in today's money) had to pay 91% on amounts over that. During Nixon the highest marginal rate was 70%. The result? The highest growth rate and economic wealth generation period in American history.

  81. First define rich.
    Is Warren Buffet rich, certainly. I
    s Bill Gates or Steven Jobs rich unequivocally.

    Are the millions of bloated pension recipients from unions and indolent no show job holders rich? Yes, doubly because they have not earned their favored no worry status and taxpayers are subsidizing their indolence from age 50 on.

    Are those who receive Social Security, Medicare rich. The media would have you think so. Actually some are those who the politicians deem should have it without contributing... the are rich at the expense of those who paid in for 40 or 50 years and receive a dismal return on this extortion.

    But the family without a paid for home, savings and with children and no stored wealth making $200,000 is not, regardless of the smoke blown by politicians.

  82. Reform the tax code. Eliminate most of the deductions (I believe charity, state income tax, property tax and home mortgage interest deductions should remain). Phase out the deductions on earned income over $250,000; with the deductions completely eliminated on earned income over $1,000,000. No taxes on earned income below $20,000. Reduce the 3 lower tax brackets by 1%. Increase the rest of the brackets by 1%. Give the corporations a moratorium on repatriating foreign cash as long as it's used for an investment or creation of a real job and go to a flat 25% tax on corporate income with dividends paid to shareholders a deductible expense since that money is removed from the corporation and given to the owners. Cut Federal spending by 20% but, START NOW, not 2 years from now the way Obama and Congress want to start. I cut spending in my company company by 20% when the recession hit which included a layoff of 17% of our employees. I also cut my salary and the salary of my management team and discontinued dividends to all of our owners, kept insurance and our 401k plan match in place and rehired all of the employees who were laid off within 6 months; only after which did we restore the pay cuts. Why can't our government cut spending. What none you "tax the top 1%-3% of rich people" seem to get is that if we took 100% of what they earned, it's $300,000,000-$400,000,000 and our annual deficit is $1,500,000,000,000. For those of you who can't see the extra zero's, a tax hike won't cover them. I'm not quite sure what Buffet is arguing for but I guess he wants to raise taxes on dividends and capital gains, although he doesn't say so; he the rich need to pay their fare share. They already pay more than 1/2 the total tax collected. Pick a new rate and calculate the tax-it won't cover the deficit and taxing dividends and capital gains hurts everyone who owns a dividend paying stock(that's all you GM, Ford, GE and CBS stockholders).

  83. Sixty five percent of people in America support higher taxes on the rich. Why is it that the Democrats and Obama can't win this argument? Is it incompetence or quiet acquiescence?

  84. Since the wealthy feel they have no skin in the game if this country goes to pot infrastructure- and social-wise, why don't they simply stop using taxpayer-funded roads/trains/mail to send their companies' goods and go peddle their products anywhere but America? Are they really this blind and stupid?

  85. It is hard to compare various European tax regimes with ours as it's not an apple to apple comparison. Europeans are happy to pay high taxes BUT NOT primarily as a transfer payment to the "poor" BUT because they ACTUALLY get something for their money: healthcare, cheap-to-free college education for their children, in many countries long maternity and paternity leaves and free childcare, effective public transportation, and good retirement benefits.

    Here we are taking about almost 50% of working Americans who pay no tax and arguments over what the definition of "rich" is: is it the Buffet tax for those making over 1 million or the family making $250,000? Big difference.

    Many middle class Americans I believe would also be happy to pay more taxes IF they also got something for them. I have to pay private healthcare, my children's education cost a fortune, and while Social Security will be a lifeline to many, is not going to be sufficient retirement income on its own for all the others.

    Also all these comparisons take the highest tax bracket in a European country and compare it to our highest Federal rate. BUT that is also wrong. Europeans have a single tax. We have Federal Tax, FICA tax, state income taxes, state disability tax (SDI in CA), and possibly local income taxes. Also, the US tax system phases out deductions (both personal and Schedule A) as your income grows and this happens well under $250,000, Then there is the AMT which catches many middle income people who live in high state-tax states like NY or CA. If you add all these taxes and tax effects our tax rates aren't so much lower than many Europeans. We just don't get social benefits from them.

  86. I thought the idea was a fair tax system.It isn't fair if someone is forced to pay a higher % than someone else.Unless you make the tax system fair,there is going to be continued tax avoidance and evasion.

  87. Tax just needs a new name. Call it the Eisenhower Tax Rate.

  88. Wow! The arrogance of folks here to lecture Warren Buffet on how to make money. They say,"Warren, if you listen to what I say you could be richer than you are. Although I'm not as rich as you I support policies that when I become rich, I will stay rich and not have to lose it to onerous taxes. Mr. Buffet, you're not as smart as the entire world thinks you are. You could do better if you listen to me."

  89. With every GOP whining point, just follow the Money Trail.

  90. Obushama and the other politicos are just posturing for votes.

    When they put their own benefits on the chopping block, they can have mine. Meanwhile, evict 'em all.

    Sure there's a progressive tax for the rich, but there's a regressive tax for the poor that's a real killer, and the middle class is now the new poor. The old poor are the new poverty stricken.

    Get out from your iPads and look at who's making off with the swag, and vote them all out of office.

    This week Obushama's a Damocrap again. Next week he'll be a Republicant. A typical politico.

    Abraham Lincoln - "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

    Let's hear the truth for a change. The questions are real simple, who has all the money? Who can afford to pay taxes more than the others? Who's still going to be rich no matter how high the percentage? Who's had a ten year break from paying death taxes? Is our country better off? Is the world's economy better off? How many jobs must be lost before they do anything? How many homes must be foreclosed before we vote them all out? Who has any hope?

  91. Since liberals in NYTimes totally reject facts (e.g. rich people already pay higher tax rates, as pointed by several conservative posters and myself, and can easily be verified by IRS data), I am going to point out a few more reality checks to the readers:

    1. US has already a more progressive tax system than most European countries. Yes tax rate in US is lower for the rich, but it is much lower for the poor and middle income - much much lower. Most of the welfare and entitlemnet programs in European countries are funded by middle class tax. They don't have 50% of population who don't pay tax.

    2. If you think that taxing the rich is going to benefit you - dream on. It is going to be spend on wasteful government programs, period. I will be happy if it goes to deficit reduction - but even that is a tall order to expect.

    3. If rich people is not the job creator, than who is the job creator? Definitely not the poor nor the middle income.

    4. If tax cut does not create job, how does tax hike creates job?

    5. If you think Obama's proposal is going to pass the congress, you are probably from Mars. If you think Obama does not know that his proposal will not pass the congress, that you are hopelessly clueless.

    6. If you think only GOP is blocking Obama's proposal, than you should pay more attention. I can imagine that Harry Reid is cringing about putting Obama's proposal for a vote in the DEMOCRAT controlled senate, lest it be defeated with huge embarrassment to the president. And I won't be surprised if it get less than 50 votes. The last time Obama's budget for 2012 was voted in senate, it was defeated by 0 to 97.

  92. There would seem to be no disagreement that the financial collapse and the resulting faltering economy were caused by the greed, dishonesty, selfishness and exploitation indulged in by the few. One can go further and observe that these cycles have been experienced over many years with reoccurring consistency demonstrated in the savings-and loans, banks, dot.coms, corporate corruption, mortgage, investment and financial industries, always being the same, with run-away and aggressive exploitation by the few resulting in substantial losses accruing to the majority. Much like the illegal “pyramid schemes” but here without government ever seeing and outlawing the abusive behavior. Why?

    It would be naive not to see that government, actually politics, has become literally controlled by its own excessive financial needs and totally dependent on the capital provided by those sources who actually directly benefit from the exploitation mentioned and also from other government favoritism, which again greatly costs the majority. There really are many “strings” that are tied to the substantial support given the politicians and nowhere is there any conscience about it. We hear rationalizations to justify all of it in wanting “open markets”, “deregulation”, lax-enforcement and even the “trickle down” theory, with claims that they stimulate the economy but what we have seen is that what they stimulate, as human nature dictates, is that run-away greed just takes over and super-egos really have no self-imposed limits.

    Solid evidence is seen in Bush-Cheney having totally concentrated on Special Interests and the powerful, influential and extremely wealthy few while giving the majority only apathy, the costs and an abundance of subterfuge to rationalize, con and manipulate. The Republican Party completely backed all of that and have, along with their protege Tea Party, continued with that same mentality effectively offering nothing constructive and stubbornly faulting and blocking all efforts to address the resulting problems. There have been those organized, financially supported and closely directed third party efforts to control public opinion and manipulate the voters, like the considerable efforts to sway the Christian block, the Swift-boat propaganda and the Tea Party movement, all aimed to excite and move the public in the same direction. There are those greatly financed groups, like Norquist’s “anti-tax” pledge, Cheney’s, Rove’s and others, who use the vast sums provided them to coerce and intimidate strict unity behind the dedicated pursuit of “big money’s” interests, as they even brag they can “make or break” any politician. We see the financially supported, often bazaar, antics of Palin, Limbaugh, Beck and others, and the arrogant, stubborn and even obnoxious presentations of Boehner, McConnell, Bachmann, Perry, Kyl, Ryan and more, always faulting as “liberal” any consideration for the majority and literally pushing everything that benefits the few, being rationalized as “conservative” (with “ultra-conservative” just being a synonym for “big money”). The point being that it should be totally obvious that there is substantial control and pressure being exerted by the money people with the results being complete partiality shown them and with no conscience or honest consideration for the majority.

    Reform is desperately needed, political reform allowing for financial reform and to encourage real bipartisan cooperation, that being what our government was designed for, and to then provide all other needed reform and an honest government. The Democrats are not “pure and holy”, not “all good and clean” by any measure but what they are, because of differences in ideology, is not attractive to “big money” and more oriented toward benefitting the majority, including the total middle-class who constantly loose the most. The Democrats need to be stronger, to be more unified and to be really focused on solving the problems without the results ever being too liberal. Simply, they are closer to accomplishing that then the Republicans are to ever breaking the hold “big money” has on them. It has been said that the Republicans, being owned by and with their concentration totally on benefitting “big money”, are completely incapable of ever honestly and effectively governing for the people. If we really want the Republicans to ever become the Grand Ole Party once again, with an emphasis on the people instead of just on their strong supporters who “pull their strings”, then we need to fully and totally reject what they have become. We need to push towards getting money out of politics and to start by rendering it ineffective, to just reject the manipulation. Good luck!

  93. The wealthy no longer invest in jobs, profit margins being what they are. They invest in the carry trade, the commodities markets, government debt; imposing private taxes on all of us since the deregulation of derivatives by Bill Clinton in 1999. Why is it that when the government taxes, it gives rise to the hysteria we hear from the right, but when financiers take a cut out of every transaction, without actually producing any benefit to society, using derivatives to institute a private taxation system there is nary a whimper from the bought and paid for politicians of the right and increasingly the left. Jobs are no longer being created because the wealthy no longer need to create them. The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 made it possible to create a private tax system skimming off profits from transactions made by the rest of the economy never having to dirty their hands with job creation, unions and all that bunk. By lower tax rates to the point of insolvency forcing the government to borrow and pay interest, the wealthy have created a parallel tax system which benefits no one but themselves. Given these circumstances it is time to mop up all that surplus money that is distorting the economic system. It all goes back to the economic principle of the paradox of thrift. Money as a medium of exchange works best when it represents the myriad economic transactions of society. It does not work when it is hoarded by the wealthy and withdrawn from the real economy which is then unable to meet its economic demands. The nations of the world have been burdened with a tremendous debt by the great financiers and their political lackeys. It is the miracle of compound interest that it grows geometrically whereas economic growth is linear. There has been so much debt loaded onto our economic institutions that it will never be paid off even if everyone is put on a starvation diet. There is a 4 trillion dollar carry trade for god sakes, how many jobs does that produc

  94. "there's some evidence that Americans support greater taxes on millionaires?" NO, there's a ton of clear evidence that this is the case. Every recent poll shows a huge majority in favor of tax increases on the wealthy.

  95. By creating a "wealthy class", the President may be violating the Constitution. Up to this point, class distinction was just talk in this country, unlike say, England or India. But this action of the President will actually give definition to one, and cause a deeper dividing line in the American consciousness. I think it could be challenged in court. But instead of singling out a class of persons, why not tax the profits themselves? Just try it on for size. Tax profits, not people. You get the same money, maybe a lot more, but you don't cause class consciousness.

  96. I am all for a tax break for "Job Creators." They are the middle class small business owners and a majority of them make less that $250k personal income. Let's be clear, $250k personal income, not the misunderstood by Joe the plumber figure of $250k gross income of a small business. A small business that grosses over $250k will not be touched by this tax proposal, an owner needs to achieve greater than $250k personal income to be affected, and only the income over $250k would be under new rates. A small business will have to have substantial gross income to provide a small business owner of an income greater than $250K.

  97. It's times like this that we have to think of the bigger picture. At this point the top 1% are in a position where they can begin to subvert the authority of the government itself, simply by sheer amount of money. As their wealth becomes power, they are able to deny the lower class the rights that they have by the constitution, of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. When a person works all day to survive, he has no surplus income to pursue his happiness. When he is deep in debt, it enslaves him, and his liberty is gone. When he can't even get enough money to eat, his life is in danger.
    As our rights are threatened, we lose faith in the system bound to protect them. We no longer vote, since it seems to make no difference. And the wealthy gain even more power. It is a vicious circle, widening the gap between rich and poor to a fissure of debt. And it has only one conclusion.
    If left unchecked, we are left with an aristocracy of the rich. Democracy will be a hollow shell, devoid of the rights that it claims to protect, while the Trumps and Gates and Jobs control every aspect of the serfs that were once American citizens.
    This tax is a step in the right direction. The money is not what's important. It's a symbol that the government is working on behalf of the people. It inspires new faith in the system, and citizens will participate in the government that is helping them. The upper class will lose their grip on the government and the playing field can be leveled, where the laws of competition and capitalism will pull the money back to the hands of people who work for it.

  98. If you are looking for a tax on millionaires and billionaires, I give you the AMT. Implemented in 1969, it was created to catch 155 "high earners" who made $200k and up and paid no taxes due to clever use of deductions. We can see how well that has worked out.

    It's very easy to focus on the haves and glare enviously at their success. It's much harder to recognize that you DON'T have a right to their success just because they have it and you don't.

    Arguments regarding "fairness", "justice", "greed", or "theft" are simply projections of your own inadequacies. Before you remove the mote in your neighbor's eye, see to the beam in your own.

  99. Would the fact that about half the members of Congress are millionaires have any effect on the opposition to the tax?

  100. Duh! Why wouldn't I be in favor of someone else paying more taxes to pay for things that I might benefit from and not have to pay for. Pile it on! Tax those greedy millionaires 100%!

  101. It is clear that revenue needs to be increased and that can be done a variety of ways, capturing more tax revenue from large corporations, creating new tax brackets for those earning over a certain amount, these should be indexed to inflation so we don't run into the current problem of the AMT, i.e. $1 MM bracket, a $3MM bracket, a $5MM bracket, and on up the ladder.

    Entitlement programs like SS can also be easily fixed by capturing more money by increasing, again adjusted to inflation, the amount of income subject to the tax.

    Then there is the fairness issue, who should pay taxes in this country and how much? Should everyone who works pay income taxes? Right now about 46% of this country pays nothing in income taxes? Yes they pay payroll taxes but that is more akin to paying into a retirment system in that those funds will be returned to them. Shouldn't every able adult pay taxes for the greater good of the country?

    And I agree with another poster that the middle and upper middle are really the folks who are getting squeezed, paying more in taxes to support the poor and less in taxes (as a %) than the rich and super rich. I think Obama made a major mistake targeting families that earn $250,000 as rich last year. A two income couple earning $250,000 is likely a couple with major student loans in a high tax state. And moreover, why should there be such a huge marriage tax penalty, Obama said an individual earning $200,000 and a couple earning $250,000 would be subject to higher taxes under his plan from last year. Really, a $150,000 tax penalty???? And yes I know the tax plan put forth by Obama was only for income over $250,000, but still its wrong to penalize working women in such a way.

    And the biggest problem I have is with the never ending wars and the costs associated with them. We shouldn't be raising taxes to pay for these political disasters we should be ending these disasters.

  102. jrj90620 wrote, “I thought the idea was a fair tax system. It isn't fair if someone is forced to pay a higher % than someone else. Unless you make the tax system fair, there is going to be continued tax avoidance and evasion.”

    In advanced countries, progressive taxation is the basis of modern economies that have a better and more equitable standard of living. At a time when the gap between the very wealthy and everyone else is growing wider, the wealthy have received hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, the crooks on Wall Street are receiving larger compensation packages than before being bailed out by taxpayers, and many corporations pay little or no tax.

    Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz points out in an article on the top 1 percent that even the wealthy will come to “regret” such inequality. He writes, “Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year – an economy like America’s – is “not” likely to do well over the long haul.”

    Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
    http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-20110...

    “Speculators pay a ‘much lower’ tax rate than people who work for a living. Is there any principle in economics that says that you should earn more money by speculating than by working hard? To me, it makes no sense. So, eliminating some of these special tax provisions would raise a lot of revenue and improve our deficit position. Much of the wealth of this one percent comes not from hard work, not from innovation, but from good investments in Washington, investing in political capital.”

    Stiglitz’s interview with Democracy Now:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/7/nobel_economist_joseph_stiglitz_ass...

  103. Now letting the rich pay less taxes than average Americans does not result in them investing this additional $$ in a way that pays the society back by creating jobs. This paper continually reports that wealthy investors and corporations when they have $ to invest, invest that $ overseas usually in order to move manufacturing jobs out of the USA. We need to tax the rich much more and also place stiff tarrifs on any foreign made goods they try to move back into the USA. They will only invest and be real "job creators" (not the phoney ones Republicans claim they are) if they are required to manufacture here. We need MADE IN USA policies now!!

  104. So, Mike L from Dayton (#17), you think it's fair for capital gains and dividends to be taxed at a lower rate than earned income? Then please explain why my savings interest (as in bank interest - you know, that old-fashion kind of investment for risk-averse folks like me) is added to my earned income for tax purposes.

  105. It's so odd to me that we apply the same tax rate to Ashton Kutcher and his doctor. The explanation for why is simple. "It's math." http://bit.ly/omqqsp

  106. Raising the capital gains rate to equal that of wage income is the only way that Warren Buffett will ever pay as much of an effective tax rate as his secretary. Without that, very rich individuals like Mr. Buffet, whose vast income is comprised almost entirely of capital gains, will continue to pay lower effective rates than most everybody. Since Mr. Obama isn't taking about raising the capital gains rate, the "Buffett Tax" is nothing but campaign fodder. How surprising.

  107. I ask one talking head on fox and friends to name 5 millionaires, and 3 billionaires who have created jobs in the U.S. for American workers as a result of getting their bush tax cut.
    They can not even name one.