Imagine a tax increase that makes sense to liberals and conservatives, the Chamber of Commerce and unions, truckers and environmentalists.
While past attempts at big deals have failed, this time Obama has serious leverage: House Republicans loathe the fiscal cliff's policies.
The question isn't who gives more and who receives more at a given moment. It's whether the use of tax dollars serves the common good.
Obama's tax proposal is good short-term policy and smart politics. But it irks me every time I hear him define the middle class so expansively.
In our corner of the economy, excellent pastors got fired and many took wage and benefit cuts. In some cases, the congregations didn’t realize that their decrease in membership was a national trend that had a lot to do with shifting demographics.
Redistributing wealth is what all public budgets do. The question is whether a given type of redistribution promotes justice and decency.
When I was doing my taxes this year, it occurred to me that the process is a bit like praying the prayer of examen. This Ignatian prayer is used at the end of the day to think back on what happened that day, to ponder where God was in it and to think ahead to the next day. In doing my taxes, I was forced to think back on the events of my life in 2011, both the good and the bad.
Have you filed your tax return yet? If you prepared it yourself, congratulations on navigating that complex web of forms and instructions, an ongoing complexity brought to you by a strange lobby comprised of tax-preparation companies and antitax activists. Senate Republicans blocked the Buffett Rule yesterday, a sad moved surpassed in sadness perhaps only by the smallness of the proposed minimum tax itself.
So it turns out that the president and first lady's tax burden for last year was only 20.5 percent. Does this make Obama a hypocrite for criticizing Mitt Romney's low tax rate? Only if he blames Romney personally for not voluntarily paying more. As I said in Romney's defense a while back, the problem isn't that presidential candidates with plenty of money aren't willing to pay their taxes. The problem is that their taxes are too low.
It's not what the headlines are highlighting, but Mitt Romney's 2010 tax return includes one impressive fact: his charitable contributions amounted to $7 million. I know, this hardly put him at risk of losing one of his houses and ending up out on the street till his driver could pick him up and take him to one of his other houses. Still, giving away almost a third of your income is nothing to sneeze at.
Among those of us who maintain that not everything the federal government does should be either privatized or eliminated, it's common to point out that income tax rates are a lot lower than they used to be, especially but not only for the rich.
In my state of South Carolina, we have a long history of not wanting anybody to tell us what to do with our land, our possessions, or our money. This has created a sense of fierce independence, as history bears out.
This week, a former Google executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes so that more people will have the chance to succeed as he has. It was nice to hear the president defend the idea that individual wealth is built in part by collective investment--even if he didn't state it as forcefully as Elizabeth Warren, and even if he mostly avoided the word "taxes" itself.