Poll: Should debt deal include tax hikes for the wealthy?

June 29, 2011

President Obama took aim at tax breaks for the wealthy at his press conference today, saying, “You can afford it. You’ll still be able to ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to pay a little more.”

Ooh, snap!

Obama singled out oil and gas subsidies “for oil companies that are making money hand-over-fist” and “wealthy” CEOs and hedge fund managers. He predicted that Republican anti-tax legislators would eventually have to come around and accept some tax increases as part of a big budget-cutting/debt-ceiling-hiking compromise package. The Administration has said the U.S. would not be able to meet all of its obligations if the federal debt ceiling isn’t increased by August 2.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been dismissive of this approach, suggesting that the midst of a “debt crisis” is the wrong time to raise taxes and could stall jobs.

Meanwhile, down at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Internal Revenue Service taxpayer advocate Nina E. Olson was renewing her call for tax reform in a report to Congress. “Unless the tax system becomes more transparent and user-friendly, taxpayers’ perceptions of fairness and ultimately their compliance with the system may continue to erode,” she said in the report.

So what are those perceptions? In January, the IRS set up a tax reform website to garner public response to the question: “What would you be willing to give up if you knew that others are giving up their breaks and the end result would be a much simpler system?”

The IRS has received some 1,500 comments so far, and posted a few that it says are “not statistically represententative” of all of the responses. Ideas include several entreaties for a flat tax and for the scrapping of the income tax altogether in favor of a consumption tax. But folks are asking for more tax breaks — for items like retiree medical expenses, Social Security benefits, student loan repayment and more. That fairness theme ran throughout what was, admittedly, a curated collection.

“I’d give up most, if not all, tax credits or deductions for a simple, fair and moderate flat tax that everyone in the country paid equally,” said one. “I do find it infuriating to learn that many of our largest corporations, with quarterly profits in the tens of millions of dollars, are paying a lower effective tax rate than I am,” said another.

So is Obama onto something? Is it time for the federal government to collect more revenue from the upper strata of American society? “The revenue we’re talking about isn’t coming out of the pockets of middle-class families that are struggling, it’s coming out of folks who are doing extraordinarily well and who are enjoying the lowest tax rates since before I was born,” Obama said.

What do you think? Take our poll.

[poll id=”23″]


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Rich people buy the houses and buildings that lower income people live in. They put up money into businesses so people can earn a paycheck. Save for some who inherited, they worked hard for their money and success. And those who inherit still have to work to keep it. Start hitting their pocketbook and then we will really see a depression….Or rather, an even bigger one then the one we are in.

Posted by ZorekR | Report as abusive

Money was originally meant to reward contribution to society. In a society where this works, no-one needs check to make shure others don’t make too much. That is what the U.S.A. used to be.

Redistributing wealth is the process by which that kind of a society has been destroyed.

Money is just a symptom of a person being useful to others. Tweaking that to get a certain outcome of general wealth is disastrous. It is price fixing of the most sensitive of prices. And in the end it increases the gap between rich and poor, because it is the rich who can easily get a raise when they get taxed more.

If we want to live in a free country again, we first must get rid of the bums that encite others to take other peoples’ wealth.

If the government was making sure the law is obeyed, instead of fixing this and that, we wouldn’t have this problem. And the government wouldn’t be spending the insane money it does.

Posted by Wondering0 | Report as abusive

ZoneR your logic leads me to believe you are asking those of us that work just as hard to trust in the benevolence and goodwill that arises from the accumulation of wealth and power. By your logic, I suppose you give up your chair at the lunch counter when every you are in their presence because you know they will feed you a better lunch than you could have afforded on your own.

Hmmmm…. Last time I checked the US was founded on the principal of equal participation. Let them participate equally.

Posted by opentochange | Report as abusive

Bush had the lowest tax rate in 20 years and the economy stagnated. Clinton and Reagan had higher taxes and the economy strengthened. Nixon created much more in corporate taxes and the economy got stronger as well. Other countries like Canada and Germany have much higher taxes and a strong economy. Let’s end this discussion that higher taxes stagnate the economy, because it is just plain false.

Posted by dt1728 | Report as abusive

Poor people buy stuff with every penny they get, and our economic crisis is one of DEMAND. Essentially we’re laying off public employees because of a crisis that gives us high unemployment because of low demand, and we’re cutting off people’s unemployment and food stamps because of a crisis where businesses (often run by rich people, otherwise known as God’s gift to humanity, as other commenters have noted) are struggling to get enough customers to buy their stuff! Why are we so frighteningly stupid and counter-effective about this? Because those rich people who are God’s gift to us, and who have more money and power to change public opinion than anyone else, have convinced us that giving them and only them everything they want right now, today, is what’s noble and good and helps everyone. We are dupes.

Posted by dvstllrd | Report as abusive

Before answering this question, “rich” has to be defined. If the answer is 250,000.00 /year,then I vote no. That level of income hardly counts as “rich”. I doubt if anyone making that amount actually flies any thing other than commercial. If you are talking about health insurance executives, Oprah, or major corporate CEOs and others making many millions of dollars a year and not paying much tax, then I vote yes. I would also vote yes that EVERYONE in the US who makes an income should have to pay SOME income tax, and that there should NEVER be a “tax rebate” to people who don’t even pay taxes.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

zoreckR, the Ayn Rand plantation theory of the economy is delusional. We do not live off the scraps from the Massa’s table.

Consumer demand drives our economy. Without it, the rich would be paupers. No customers, no business.

The rich do drive some demand and create some jobs. At the Rolls Royce factory in England, at Chanel in France, at Gucci in Italy, at caviar processing plants in Russia and Iran, to name just a few.

Posted by Gaius_Baltar | Report as abusive

If we collected 100% of the income of the top 5 percent of earners in this nation as taxes, it would not close the deficit. Not even close. We cannot tax our way out of this deficit. Period. The majority of the solution will have to be spending cuts, and they will have to be MEANINGFUL spending cuts. . .not a few billion here and there.

This corporate jets tax loophole Obama kept referring to? Yeah, it was enacted as part of his pork-filled stimulus plan. He signed it into law. And if overturned it would generate a grand total of $3 billion in 10 years, which doesn’t even SCRATCH the deficit.

Pure posturing.

Posted by maddog2 | Report as abusive

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Posted by David Frum: Obama has strong hand on debt talks, but plays it badly – National Post (blog) | Sick Sick Sick | Report as abusive

The reason your government doesn’t have enough money has nothing to do with rich peoples’ earnings. Democracy is set up to make governments spend more and more. They promise social safety net and healthcare and then they collect your money and waste it on other things that get them re-elected.

That is why we are in a hole so deep that taxing the rich would not help to begin with. Taxing the rich brings peanuts into the budget.

Most of us now feel we work hard and cannot make ends meet. That’s not the rich peoples’ fault. That is government waste projected into our taxes.

Posted by Wondering0 | Report as abusive

Am I the only one who thinks the poll and the actual write-up don’t go together? The question shouldn’t be “should we tax the rich more”, it should be “should we fix the tax code”. Can the rich afford to pay more tax? Probably. Should they just because they are rich? I have a tough time justifying that statement. To use blanket statements like they got rich off the backs of the middle class is ridiculous. With that being said, it does appear that the super rich/corporations use alot of legal ways to get around the tax code and pay less than they should. And to clear it up, I think super rich should be people in the millions, certainly not 250k and above.
However, we should look at the other side as well. With a large percentage of people (I read 45-55% depending on the website) getting a net tax refund, it makes sense that we should probably look at this group as well for increased tax revenue. I understand this number would be much less than what we would get from the rich, but at least then there would be some fairness to it and everyone would have a vested interest.
From where I sit (middle class, trying to get to upper middle class), it seems the middle class is getting hit the hardest because the two extremes are getting to legally opt out. What I am certain of is that I am paying alot of taxes and I am definitely tired of it. I do realize this is a more complicated issue than I have space for and that I won’t be able to properly communicate all points of view.
At the end of the day, both sides will have to compromise some, akthough my personal opinion is that we need to reduce spending alot more than we need to increase taxes on the rich. I feel the Democrats just hit the tax-the-rich button every time they want to drum up public support, because of course there are more non-rich than rich. What do we really expect this poll to say? Of course the majority of people are going to be for taxing the rich.
Meanwhile, the largest cutting plan from both parties is a joke. Our government spending is a mess and I mean that to both sides. We need to see where we can reduce defense, entitlements, foreign aid, and government pay. Sadly I didn’t get to fully flesh out all the points I wanted to make. There are too many and I have to get back to work. But I am tired of coming on here and seeing people cheerlead for their political party and bad mouth the other one, without making the points needed to have a real discussion.

Posted by TheIndependent | Report as abusive

The increasing the generation of revenue is one aspect of the solution in front of us. The reduction of expenses is another. Neither will bring about a solution on its own. The challenge facing our time is to be able see through the decades of partisan dogma that has encrusted the simple principals of commerce by with rich and pour most operate to thrive in society. This is the point being stressed by this crisis.

As stated above it all comes down to the pragmatic decision of whether one sides with the belief the solution to our challenge is fair and moderate for everyone in the country.

Posted by opentochange | Report as abusive

tax outsourcing!

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive

You guys who defend “rich” people as mostly likeable, altruistic regular folk need to take an economics course and a reality check. By being rich does not make you entitled nor does it mean you actually contributed anything beneficial to society. It doesn’t mean you earned it in the true economic sense, i.e., you have a talent highly sought after and in limited supply, or you are taking extreme risks, or your efforts have contributed significant benefits to society in general. Plainly, the rich can be good for society or can be extremely bad for society. An aristocracy, like in Mexico or Saudi Arabia, actually perpetuates an ignorant, impoverished majority. We don’t want to become so imbalanced where a few have 90% of the wealth while the vast majority live from paycheck to paycheck and have know real chance to better themselves. That situation eventually leads to revolution, drug cartels running the country, or dictatorships (like China).

Posted by armoderate | Report as abusive

@TheIndependent – no, you’re not the only one.

The tax cut in question was supposed to be temporary to begin with. So let it expire. It really should be a separate issue from our budget talks, but everyone knows it won’t (not in this poisonous political climate).

Posted by bobSmith | Report as abusive

All wealth comes from the state, and the longer a particular state remains stable and productive, the greater that wealth will become for all.

If the state is perceived by the majority to be reasonably fair in the distribution of that wealth, it will be stable, and all will prosper to a degree that is acceptable for most.

It is only when the state is perceived as being fundamentally unfair in income distribution that social problems begin to occur, and the majority start to lose faith in their system of government.

History clearly shows that no state can survive on a long-term basis when the majority perceive the state to be fundamentally unfair. Some appear to survive by suppression of their people, but that is not a viable long-term solution. When the state eventually fails, as it must, the degree of adverse reaction (i.e. revolution) by the people is usually relative to the oppressive treatment it receives from the government over time and chaos results.

Based on reasoning that is basically self-serving for the long-term survival of the state, the wealthy should be required to pay whatever the majority perceive as their fair share of taxes, whether the wealthy believe that to be fair or not.

If the state allows the wealthy to avoid doing this, the government will eventually collapse, either economically or politically — that result is preordained. It is only a matter of time.

The real, and most difficult, choice is to willingly pay what the majority believe is fair now, or face losing all the wealth that has been acquired later — or pass on that ever-increasing risk of economic or political collapse to our children like an inherited, incurable disease.

Unfortunately, the wealthy believe that they are protecting their heirs by retaining as much wealth as possible for the future. But in point of fact, the wealthy by their present counterproductive actions, are seriously undermining that future.

Those are the hard facts which no one wants to recognize or admit, but they are true, and even a cursory examination of the rise and fall of states in history is the proof.

It is a fundamental fact that a deeply unpopular government cannot survive as long as a state that is openly responsive to the needs of the majority.

The primary objective of the state should be to maintain a reasonable balance between the need of the wealthy to acquire and retain wealth, and to be sure that wealth is shared appropriately and wisely with the majority.

As I said above, all wealth is derived from the state, and those in power would be wise to ensure the state remains stable and productive — the only way to do this is to ensure all of its citizens are treated as equitably as possible — this, above all else, must be the primary concern of any government that hopes to survive.

I think that at the present the US government has lost sight of this primary goal, which is why the majority of the American people have lost faith in their government. For this government to remain in power over the long-term, it is urgent that these issues of equitable treatment for the majority be addressed and resolved immediately, before any more economic or political damage occurs.

Posted by Gordon2352 | Report as abusive

A quick bit of background on where I’m coming from: I own a small business (a tech startup). I’m engaged in every politician’s favorite buzzword – “job creation” – largely funded by deferring salary so I can pay employees.

@ZorekR, among others: the claim that raising taxes on high-income earners will hurt job creation is false. I’m speaking from personal experience here, but don’t take my word for it – it’s easy to see why. Taxes are paid on income. Money spent on employees is not income, and is not taxed on a corporate level. If a small business owner brings in $100,000 in his/her first year of operations and pays two employees $50,000 each, the small business pays no taxes (ignoring, of course, the portion of payroll taxes paid by the business). The sole case where federal taxes come into play are if the business is profitable, the profit exceeds the owner’s desired personal profit-taking for that year, and if the owner chooses to re-invest the surplus in the business. Again speaking from experience, this is a good problem to have. Most startup companies don’t turn a profit for many years, even while they’re creating jobs, so the problem of taxed surplus is less important to job creation than it might seem.

On a related note, I think many people who comment on these sorts of posts need to do a quick bit of research into the actual US income distribution. It’s a widely expressed view (@TheIndependent) that $250K isn’t “super rich”. Sorry! Stats just don’t back that up. The median US household income, using 2005 numbers, was $44,389. The 80th percentile caps at $92,500. By the time you’re up to $250K, you’re in the top 1.5-2.5% of earners. I know.. you’re not buying jets, islands, or yachts, but if you’re in a room with 99 other people, odds are there’s only one other person there who earns what you do. Congrats!

So let’s use the simplest possible definition for lower, middle, and upper classes, by dividing income into three slices, grouped by population. The “lower class” makes up to $32,500 per year. The “middle class” tops out at $67,500. “Upper class” is everyone else.

I think the real problem is us – the upper class that thinks it’s middle class. Or, rather I hope to be able to count myself in this group, once I’m done with “job creation”. The harsh reality is: if you make more than $67,500 a year, you’re upper class. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Search Wikipedia for “Household income in the United States” for additional stats.

Posted by madmartigan | Report as abusive

This isn’t much of a poll. I don’t care if the rich (assuming they are really rich) get taxed a little more or not. The idea is nothing but a political ploy to avoid the hard task of cutting spending. I dispair of the state we find ourselves in after half a century of creeping socialism and political patronage. It almost seems that there is no way out. People have become dependent upon their handouts, and this includes the farm lobby (In case you didn’t know, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than comes out of it.) I fear (litteraly) that our people lack the will to accept the kind of spending restraints that are necessary to restore our country to its former prosperity and strength.

Posted by John-B | Report as abusive

[…] post: Poll: Should debt deal include tax hikes for the wealthy? More on this:Obama: Deficit deal must end tax breaks for wealthy By DAVID LIGHTMAN President Barack […]

Posted by Tax Advisor » Poll: Should debt deal include tax hikes for the wealthy? | Report as abusive

Makes me proud to see folks from different political persuasions able to discuss without all the acrimony. Wish our politicians could do so as well.

Posted by Gottasayit | Report as abusive

Why a tax hike? Take every dollar and every thing else of value from the ‘wealthy’. That will fund government for a day, two at most; after that we can find another way to play Robin Hood.

Posted by v32pl32 | Report as abusive

To put some “meat on the bones” of my earlier post, in which I deliberately omitted specifics because I wanted to make a point that the US is literally on the verge of collapse — primarily due to increasing inequality in this country which has been going on since shortly after WWII.

As a consequence, ALL tax and spending budget items should be required to justify their existence — basically go back to a zero based budget. The budget problems the US has cannot be “tweaked” any longer, and must be fixed. That is likely to throw this country into chaos, because we would have to reinvent ourselves on the fly, so to speak. But there is really no other choice in order to survive as a nation, and assure our creditors we have not become a deadbeat nation.

(1) First and foremost, we must recognize that the US is NOT part of some global economy that is operating for our exclusive benefit, instead it is draining our economy. We are a sovereign nation, responsible for balancing our budget and living within our means, just like any other nation. Right now, we are one of the major debtor nations in the world due to bad political, economic and social decisions. These are “habits” that we must break before they break us.

(2) In order to obtain a reliable source of revenue to pay our bills and support ourselves, we must bring back all of our “real” manufacturing jobs, keeping in mind that “jobs” that rely mainly on government handouts don’t qualify, and should be required to stand on their own or die naturally.

The US was once a great manufacturing country, deriving its revenue from exports, but those days are long gone due to a series of trade laws and special tax breaks for corporations that permitted and even encouraged them to move their manufacturing facilities outside the US resulting in lost jobs for the American people. This is perhaps the main reason for the increase in profits for the wealthy class, but the single most MAJOR source of inequality today.

This legislation is the main reason for the massive “outsourcing of US manufacturing jobs,” which were our main source of revenue. What we have now is the logical result of many decades of “preferential” and “free trade” legislation that has been anything but free for the American consumer who has been driven to borrow money to buy all those cheap imported goods, mainly because middle-class income has steadily declined for decades.

It is a major reason the US middle class is so far in debt, not our natural born profligacy as consumers that some would like to think. But in order to do this, we MUST incorporate some trade protection for US workers who have thus far been destroyed by unfair trade legislation, so something like a modified version of the Smoot-Hawley Trade Bill must be enacted immediately.

(3) Corporate laws must be changed so they operate like any small sole-proprietorship business, which means allowing the “investors,” who reap all the rewards from corporate profits would have to share in their losses as well, each to the extent of their investment. This would reduce risk-taking by corporations, and improve visibility into their operations since investors would “have some skin in the game.”

(4) In order to get some operating cash without raising taxes or cutting spending, the banking industry that received such generous bailouts with “no questions asked as to what they would do with the money” should be required to pay back the government in full immediately since they have had ample time to recover on their own. All actions by the Fed to keep “printing money,” even current repurchases of treasures that is in effect (QE2.5) must stop immediately.

(5) The banking industry MUST be re-regulated again, VERY STRICTLY, in order to prevent it from destroying our economy. Capitalism without regulations becomes Neoliberalism, which is the same as “Social Darwinism,” or simply survival of the fittest. This is hardly an anti-equitable trend we can allow to continue. Beginning with something similar to the restrictions imposed by the Glass-Steagal Act to prevent speculation by the banks would be a good start.

(6) ALL social programs must be thoroughly revamped, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security was designed (successfully) as a stand-alone program, but the government has been manipulating it virtually since it began in 1935. The idea is sound, but must be protected from government access to it, which is the main reason it is broke right now with nothing but worthless IOUs. Many social programs were enacted by Congress without funding, especially during the Johnson era when we were trying to support both “guns and butter.” These issues of misalignment in government spending, and appropriate measures taken to protect the people they were designed to help must be addressed and ended.

(7) ALL LOBBYING at all levels of government must cease immediately. Lobbying is nothing more than legalized bribery of government officials, our elected officials who have taken oaths to protect and preserve our interests — not those of the special interests. This country MUST be run openly and with the benefit of the majority in mind, not in back rooms and through secret payments to select political recipients, who are then beholden to their benefactors.

(8) War has become a major “profit center” for the US, which we could never really afford and our military/industrial complex must be scale back as fast as possible. Much of our budget imbalances are due to waging decades of war and trying to bury the costs in our budget. Our military/industrial complex spending is perhaps THE major reason for our budget problems today. I am not advocating weakening the military, but “retasking” them to a more defensive role to truly protect our nation. We need a highly trained military that is capable of responding swiftly and appropriately to meet the needs of the 21st century, which we do not have now, in spite of all the money being spent on it.

(9) We must seal our borders and be able to know who is here and why — THIS should be a “no brainer,” but apparently it is a concept that is difficult for some to understand. We must do this to protect ourselves from our enemies, who right now have open access to do whatever they please.

(10) Last but certainly not least, is changing our method of taxation which punishes the working class and enriches the “rentiers” — those who live by collecting their incomes from rentals of property and lands, as well as stocks and securities. THIS is the main source of inequality in our system of taxation, and prevents real growth. The wealthy who engage in this practice pay far less tax on this type of income than that of productive activities. This stifles demand and real economic growth because workers are taxed on their incomes at a far higher rate than necessary to offset the lower tax rates on returns from investments. For much more on this type of taxation, which I cannot hope to cover in this venue, see economist Michael Hudson’s website. http://michael-hudson.com/

This is just off the top of my head, but I hope it gives you some idea that we must do to “reinvent ourselves” to survive, and it is far too late to avoid severe pain that will come as a result. The only reason I argue we implement the above — and many other reforms like them — is the alternative is to see the US economy crash into another Great Depression.

Posted by Gordon2352 | Report as abusive

Suggestion: Go ahead and implement the economic conversion plan. We Progressives know conditions will only get worse until we convert to a socialist economy with government controlling all factors of the economy. Last, we will simply slip into a total communist system. The government knows best, the government will make all the decisions, and there will be no argument over taxes because all outputs will be income to the government. The government will distribute money and goods; to each according to his/her needs, from each according to the government’s needs.
Isn’t the Plan, Progressives. Thank you, Obamarica

Posted by v32pl32 | Report as abusive

I am pleased to see that Democrats are running against Bush in the 2012 elections.

Posted by v32pl32 | Report as abusive

In an economy that produces almost nothing, the secret to success is to figure out how to do a lot with nothing.

Posted by v32pl32 | Report as abusive

Everyone keeps forgetting about the hidden Tax Hikes of the Alternative Minimum Tax that keeps taking away more and more of the upper middle classes incomes. None of thes asses even want to talk about it! But the Rich get Richer the poo poorer and the middle class is footing the Bill!

Posted by IDONTGETIT | Report as abusive

ZorekR: “Rich people buy the houses and buildings that lower income people live in. They put up money into businesses so people can earn a paycheck” = FALSE…
Proof: Name two ‘rich people’ who do this… You can’t… Rich people put but real estate only after a crash like the one we’re experiencing right now. They mainly put their money in the stock market, where the returns on capital are greater than putting money into a business that will lose money… And the myth that they create the jobs is just that… A Myth….

madmartigan: “Taxes are paid on income. Money spent on employees is not income, and is not taxed on a corporate level” = Part-True… What you forgot to say is that not only isn’t money spent on employees not income, it’s deductible FROM income, making it vertially FREE. All you have to do is learn some accounting and look at the income statement of any corporation. Payroll expenses are deducted from ‘Income’ as are TAXES. Which gets to the second item your forgot to mention: Companies DO NOT pay taxes, but in fact act as tax collectors for the government. However, I will say that you make many VALID points….

Gordon2352: All actions by the Fed to keep “printing money,” even current repurchases of treasures = FALSE… The Treasury ‘prints money’… Not the FED…. The FED decides on interest rates, for that money (and those Treasury Bills and Notes), and sets interest rates on banks. So that they can ‘create’ money, but they DO NOT ‘print money’…. Otherwise, your post makes many clear and important points.

As for the remaining posters: Get schooled, it’s educational….

Posted by edgyinchina | Report as abusive

They are not “hikes” — Obama just wants to do away with the flagrant exemptions granted to the richest by their Republican cronies whenever they could get away with it over the last decades. In other words, restore things back to a sensible and fair basis.

Posted by frankkarlburn | Report as abusive

This whole thing that the rich will turn over and play dead if they get taxed makes no sense. What will they do, if they don’t invest their money? Are they going to go out and get jobs? No! With more taxes, they will just have to invest more, create more jobs, to afford their country club lifestyles. That people buy this BS just goes to show you how gullible the ordinary person is — do you hear that, ZorekR? The rich person says, “Hey, don’t tax me, I will quit making jobs. Yeah, right. Just like poor people and middle class will quit working, if they get taxed. But the poor and middle class ARE taxed, so now it’s time for the rich too.

Posted by frankkarlburn | Report as abusive

You are all poor and middle class, which is why you are spouting this nonsense. I am rich, and I know what I am talking about. Start taxing me, and I will see to it that I just don’t invest anymore, to make jobs for you minions. Now do my bidding, get to work, and stop this nonsense about taxing me.

Posted by frankkarlburn | Report as abusive

As someone who had almost reached $25,000.00 a year before losing my job of 5 years, I have to say, RAISE THE TAXES. I barely made enough to be low income and as soon as I have another job, I will willingly pay. What does someone at $500,000 dollars have to worry about unless you have too many kids to support?

Posted by insanity | Report as abusive

Of course the wealthy of the country should pay a hefty share of the income tax. They control the greatest wealth and the assets in this and every other country.

The rest of the Middle and lower classes (they’d as soon have the lowest income groups vacate the planet entirely) are only of use to them as long as they are “productive” employees. And even those productive employees will be out of a job as soon as technology can create the perfect android salesclerk, office worker, stock trader, teacher, fireman or policeman. They wouldn’t have to pay them healthcare costs and retirement benefits and they could be put of a depreciation schedule.

It is an historical fact that the wealthiest classes of a society pay the least in taxes. With the money that subsidizes the leisure to pursue the more arcane and specialized knowledge of a culture and their ability to make or break lives not to their liking or agreeable to their demands, they have to return something of that cushion they have all the means to inflate until they aren’t even satisfied with that abundance but want absolute power to insure that they never loose that exalted position again.

“The poor man wants to be rich. The rich man wants to be king” The king wants to be God.

A country that likes to peddle the line that we a must all suffer these times together, never seems to apply the request universally. Wealth almost always offers a dispensation.

How many sons and daughter of wealth are enlisting as troops on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan? But you can bet the general staff is loaded with the children of the wealthier classes and they even get paid better.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Taxes on the Rich – YES. But let’s be smart about it.

The low tax rate of 15% on capital gains and dividends must be capped at only the first $50,000. After $50,000 then the tax rate goes to the nominal Federal income tax rate. Realize that 80% of dividends and cap gains are received by less than 2% of the US population – the richest – and they are enjoying the lowest tax rates in a century.

Tax rates on short term gains and derivative income (options, futures) should go up to 70%. Right now certain derivative income is taxed at only 10%!! The low, low rates on options and short term gains is promoting speculation and ruining the investment nature of the US financial markets.

REal estate 1098 rollovers where cap gain taxes on investment property are avoided should be eliminated.


A 2% INTANGIBLES TAX ON NET WORTHS OVER $10MILLION. This is basically a wealth tax on all persons, corporations, foundations, trusts, partnerships, etc. that are worth over $10 million. This tax would affect less than 1% of the population but would garner enough revenue to balance the budget and pay off the naitonal debt in 10 years.

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive

Einstein stated compound interest is the most dangerous weapon in any country.The rich are are obvious wealthy(that’s why we call them rich).Due to compounding of interest the rich get weathier and faster than anyone not in the “Rich” category.Pepole who spend their time defining/debating who is rich are indulging in mental masterbation!And also delay dicussion of the ramifications of compound interest Dare I say it! Wealth redistribution is mandatory to save democracy .Whether to spend it on
infrastruction or paying down the debt are legitamte debate topics.Debating whether people with multiple million dollar homes and $50,000,000 yachts should pay more in taxes is a fool’s game.If they don’t want to pay shoot then before we all become Grecian’s or worse

Posted by ngc121629 | Report as abusive

Even without the Bush tax cuts, when it comes to the PERCENTAGE of total earnings, wealthy Americans currently do not pay nearly as much in taxes as the rest of us. Since I make the bulk of my money in income, not capital gains, and don’t have many deductions, I’m currently paying out close to 30 percent of what I have coming in, while those who earn a great deal more pay closer to 15 percent…if that. Even Warren Buffet has commented that his secretary pays a bigger percentage of her earnings in taxes than he does. And then there are those wealthy Americans who manage to hide away money in offshore accounts so they can avoid paying any taxes altogether. And all the while, these people are using the same publicly financed highways and bridges that the rest of us do….Enjoying the protection of the publicly financed police and fire departments, etc. Yet they don’t feel any obligation to pay their fair share to support these things. In my opinion…They are free-loaders and should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by gsnny | Report as abusive

judging by the poll…Obama is counting on the ignorance of the masses.which if he is re-elected would put us on a path 2 a Rome like conclusion!

Posted by dannynathan10 | Report as abusive

HELL NO….we already pay more than our “SHARE”….

Posted by Mercmadog | Report as abusive

They should tax the VERY rich. After all, they were responsible for destroying our economy by inflating the bubble. They should pay the penalty when the repercussions come.

Posted by RickCain | Report as abusive

Our problem is not that our taxes need to go up. The problem is the SOBs spend to much. How is raising taxes going to help that problem. We really need a balanced budget amendment to the constitution that says that these clowns lose all of their compensation if they don’t produce a balanced budget each year

Posted by Mercmadog | Report as abusive

The argument is a relatively simple one at its core. Any increase in taxes inhibits economic growth regardless of where its applied. It’s a known fact that raising taxes alone will not be enough to solve the debt problem without severely hampering economic growth. Therefore, the only sensible way to deal with the debt problem is to significantly reduce spending which, historically, our government has never been willing to do. Our problem is that our elected officials do not have the courage to govern responsibly. That is the real problem.

Posted by Nothinsforfree | Report as abusive

[…] Reuters Blogs (blog) […]

Posted by Gutfeld: Obama Makes a Villain Out of the Rich – Fox News | Sick Sick Sick | Report as abusive

no president should b playing the class warfare card…it’s not dignified and it’s ignorant!…we need a leader of all the people,not just your voting base!

Posted by dannynathan10 | Report as abusive

@dannynathan10. By the same token, no politician should be playing the rich WELFARE card … it’s not dignified and it’s ignorant! … we need leaders of all the people, not just your rich friends!

Posted by Mangojulie | Report as abusive

The wealthy do not create jobs. Customers create jobs!

No customers = No jobs. The only reason that anyone gets hired anywhere in any business is that the business owner can not adequately service the customer base without additional help.

Demand is the key. The middle class pay a higher percentage of income on wages than the wealthy do on investment income. It seems wrong to me for a middle class factory worker to pay 32.65% on wages (physical work) while a hedge fund manager pays 15% on capital gains (passive income).

This is in addition to our unilateral free trade policies. Other countries charge higher tariffs and have more barriers to entry on our exports than we charge them on the things we import. Also, they have value added taxes which act like tariffs as well. China adds 17&, France adds 19.6%, and Germany adds 21% to the things that we sell them. We add nothing to the things that they sell us. Is it any wonder that we have a huge trade deficit every year since 1976?

Replace the Payroll tax system with either a tariff or a value added tax and exports and domestic sales will rise and imports will fall! Also tax capital gains the same way as wages. Capital gains taxes do not hurt jobs. They are paid when an asset is SOLD! Is the lady who sells a restaurant going to hire a person to work at the restaurant that she no longer owns? Is the man who sells stock or a business going to hire someone to work at that business that he no longer has a stake in?

Capital is extremely abundant right now. Historically low interest rates. The banks can borrow from the Fed at near 0% and loan it out cheap and still make a profit. Look at mortgage rates, passbook savings accounts, treasuries, and certificates of deposits. The interest rates are ridiculously low on all. If capital was scarce, rates would be much much higher.

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”– Henry Ford

Posted by Ville4real | Report as abusive

How’s about this one. Readjust the threshold for SS deductions to the first $1M earned in a year, not $109K, tax all capital gains as income vs. 15%’ eliminate wasteful subsidies (i.e. ethanol). Let’s see where that leaves us with the debt, then go from there.

Posted by coachluc | Report as abusive

[…] Poll: Should debt deal include tax hikes for the wealthy? | Reuters Wealth. […]

Posted by Poll: Should debt deal include tax hikes for the wealthy? | Reuters Wealth « wildemannesbitchinagain | Report as abusive

Of course the top tax rate should be returned to Clinton era rates. Of course if the republican objections hold any water, offer compensating deductions to any of those at the top rate who are actually “job creators”. In other words, only those who actually hired people (and kept them on) since receiving the Bush tax cuts, gets to stay at that rate.

Posted by philndeb | Report as abusive

The tax rates in no way shape or form can be a straight, flat tax, if speaking of being fiscally responsible. The lower class is already on tighter budgets and not only would it be unfair, but there would be a large disparity in tax collections between a sliding scale (as it is currently) and a flat tax rate. A flat tax rate would only significantly increase the deficit in the United States.

Posted by SmartTaxCPA | Report as abusive