The Republican Party and the Conservative media machine, which includes the most of the mainstream media, consists of some of the greatest con men ever to grace this earth. They have made the American public believe things that are clearly false to the most casual observer. Much of this is our (Liberals and Progressives) fault for we do not talk about issues in a way that is easily understandable. I will try to talk about two of them. A short one on healthcare and a little about the greatest con of all.
When I talk to people about healthcare the vast majority understand after a couple of minutes. I say to them we spend twice as much per person on healthcare than anyone else in the world and that if we spent the same amount as a percentage of GDP as the highest rated healthcare system in the world, France, we would save a trillion dollars a year, EVERY YEAR. The American healthcare system was designed in hell. It cost twice as much, does not cover everyone but it does give us the freedom to watch our neighbors suffer, did and go bankrupt needlessly which does not happen in the rest of the industrialized world. It also makes a few people incredibly wealthy at which point I bring up the CEO salaries of healthcare companies especially the United Healthcare CEO who cashed in 134 million dollars of his 750 million he had in stock options. I talk about the difference in admin costs between Medicare and the healthcare companies. I talk about the two things that are the biggest drivers in bringing down healthcare costs, preventative medicine and seeing a doctor when one first gets sick which health insurance companies actually discourage. It is a pretty easy argument.
The second is about taxes. It is a bit more complicated but the problem is really how we think and talk about them. The first concept that I think everyone misses it that the US economy is really a single entity and all citizens are really owners of it and elections can really be thought as shareholders election people to run the company. Weird but true.
A business must set aside a certain percentage of money for it’s infrastructure otherwise it will fall apart. The money we set aside for the infrastructure is called taxes. It goes to building and maintaining roads, bridges, schools, education, defense, the safety net etc. These things are vital if we are going to have a strong economy.
The common wisdom was that a progressive tax system was best. The more you made the higher percentage you paid. I am talking about the effective tax rate which is the actual money paid. The right wing propaganda machine has turned that around and what used to be common wisdom is now considered radical.
The poster boy for this change was Mitt Romney. The one year he showed his tax returns it said 13.8%( actually 9% amended) on 20 million dollars. A small businessman whose adjusted income is $100,000 will pay 15% FICA, 28% Federal and whatever states taxes owed. He is is generally on the hook at about 50%. Outrageous if you ask me.
The real logical basis for a progressive tax is the idea of disposable income. Mitt had 18 million dollars which he probably invested most of it. The business owner above and all people living paycheck to paycheck will find that most of the money after paying FICA, Federal and State taxes will be subject to sales and other taxes. THE FACT IS THAT ALL TAXES ARE THERE TO PAY FOR THE INFRASTRUCTURE!!!! A very important point.
Social Security, Medicare are infrastructure items. Walmart makes a lot of money on people who are on social security. It also is the moral thing a country does so its elderly can live and receive medical care. The case for incomes $106,000 is just another way for the very wealthy to get out of paying their fair share. If there was no ceiling on these taxes we could lower the percentage and those incomes below $106,000 would have more disposable income
The very rich in this country have conned everyone that if the do not pay taxes they will create tons of jobs. They own the media and this is the line. Actually customers create jobs. In the 50’s and 60’s the effective tax rate for the very wealthy was between 50% to 60%. The economy boomed because workers and small businessmen had more disposable income and spent most of it.
The tired old argument that the Conservative media brings out that the very wealthy pay most of the income taxes in this county holds no water when one realizes that all taxes are there to pay for the infrastructure. It is a major part of the con job.
The very wealthy and corporations are welching on their obligation to pay their share for the very infrastructure their income depends on. What that means in reality is that the rest of us have to pay more. Their propaganda machine, bought politicians and lobbyists have made a mockery of tax fairness. It is shameful and immoral. The middle class is being obliterated and we are on our way to becoming a third world country.
Billionaire Nick Hanauer explains it much better than I can here