President Obama is right: tax the rich

It’s only common sense.

California is headed for a decent budget year, the first since the Great Recession kicked in, and it’s a direct result of the tax increases of 2012. Instead of “killing jobs” and “delaying recovery,” we’ve got people going back to work. There’s also the return of services and programs that help us rebuild what was lost to the biggest bad time most of us can remember.

Let’s compare our situation to Kansas, where Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature followed the GOP playbook of cutting taxes on the already-well-to-do. Even The Wall Street Journal has referred to the subsequent slow-down (and gutting of public services) in Kansas as a warning to the rest of us.

So, when President Barack Obama, in his recent State of the Union address, called for increasing taxes on the wealthiest in order to lessen the burden shouldered by those of us who do most of the working in this county, it was clearly an idea with some solid backing.

Don’t be fooled by those who say these tax hikes will hurt the middle class. This is true only if you believe a net income of several hundred thousand dollars a year is “middle class.” Six-figure income earners can afford a modest bump in taxes. Individuals and families earning average wages can’t.

It’s a good time to remind people that the most prosperous times we’ve known—from the Eisenhower administration through the late ’70s—included tax rates on the wealthiest Americans that were more than double the current rates (and there were fewer loopholes, too).

Let’s also remind people about income inequality. That CEO incomes continue to dwarf those of employees. And that income of this country’s top 1 percent has grown by nearly 200 percent over the past two decades. And also that the median American income continues to decline while the per-capita gross-domestic product is on the rise. All this according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans will further grow this economy out of a recession. It will allow us to put money into infrastructure. This creates jobs. Jobs put money into the pockets of people who will spend it. That’s economic stimulus—much more so than allowing capital to pile up in the bank accounts of the ultra-wealthy.

Income inequality remains, alongside institutional racism, one of the major roadblocks to true democracy (note, that’s with a lower-case “d”; it’s not about partisan politics) in the United States. Bravo to the president for making a move to address it, and ignore the fear-mongering from the indentured servants of the ultra-wealthy—even if they happen to be elected officials.