The war on taxes

alg barack obamaNEW YORK | President Obama’s $3.6 trillion plan to cut budget deficits partly by adopting a highly controversial measure, raising taxes on the wealthy, has started a war in Washington. Roughly $1.5 trillion of that savings would come from increasing the taxes on the wealthier. Obama wants to apply the “Buffett rule”, increasing taxes on those who earn more than $1 million and the super-rich earning more than $10 million. Obama also vowed that he will allow the Bush tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year to expire at the end of 2012.

To Republicans, Democrats are waging class warfare. Fox News insists on the fact that the President’s plan will “hit small businesses and job creators with higher taxes to pay for floating defunct companies.” Some conservatives even believe that  he is getting numbers wrong with his plan. Typically known for his hard lines, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly delivered a big one: should Obama increase taxes for millionaires, he better quit his job, then.

For Obama, “this is not class warfare. It’s maths.” It’s only fair to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes  and the choice is clear: either you raise taxes on the wealthy or dramatically cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

Democrat media are counterattacking: “Spare us the histrionics,” shoots Eugene Robinson’s op-ed at The Washington Post. “The GOP and its upper-crust patrons have been waging an undeclared but devastating war against middle-class, working-class and poor Americans for decades. Now they scream bloody murder at the notion that long-suffering victims might finally hit back.”

“Obama Isn’t Trying to Start ‘Class Warfare’ -He Wants to End the Republican War on the Middle Class,” states political organizer Robert Creamer at the Huffington Post.

But most of all in a time where there’s lots of head-shaking right now over the economic situation in Europe, some analysts think the US should look at itself in a mirror. Fifty million Americans can’t afford health insurance. Income inequality is higher than at any time since 1928 right before the Great Depression. The Economic Policy Institute points out a huge disparity in share of total wealth gain since the beginning of the Reagan years to 2009: the richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth.

“I don’t mean to get all class-warfare on you… But unless we find a way to spread the burden upward and cut the middle class some slack, it isn’t Greece or Portugal we will soon be resembling”, writes Ellis Henican for Fox News, “it’s those old Caribbean islands Jimmy likes to sing about. Where a few super-rich families own just about everything. Where the vast majority of others have hardly anything at all.”

About the Author

Ana Fuentes
Columnist for El País and a contributor to SER (Sociedad Española de Radiodifusión), was the first editor-in-chief of The Corner. Currently based in Madrid, she has been a correspondent in New York, Beijing and Paris for several international media outlets such as Prisa Radio, Radio Netherlands or CNN en español. Ana holds a degree in Journalism from the Complutense University in Madrid and the Sorbonne University in Paris, and a Master's in Journalism from Spanish newspaper El País.

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