Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tax Rates of the Rich and Famous

Tax Rates Drop for the Rich
Mitt Romney's estimate that he paid an effective tax rate of 15% turns out to have been somewhat inflated. For 2010 the Romney's actually paid 13.9%. That same year President Obama paid 23%. Billionaire Warren Buffett paid 17.4%. The president had the lowest income and the highest tax rate of the three.

The President's higher tax rate on less income is not an anomaly. The current tax structure is distorted. It rewards the rich at the expense of everyone else. Speculation and high-leverage, high-risk investments receive more favorable tax treatment than ordinary wages. The deck is stacked against the 99%.

When President Reagan introduced Reaganomics, what his primary opponent George H. W. Bush called "voodoo economics," the tax structure was altered dramatically. Corporate and top individual marginal income tax rates and the capital gains tax rate were slashed. The effect was a boon for corporations and the rich at the expense of middle income folks and the end of real income growth for average Americans.

While candidate Romney and the Republican Party pander away, insisting we need tax cuts for "job creators," President Obama and Warren Buffett say the wealthy never had it so good and fairness demands they contribute more. The "Buffet Rule" would compel those making $1 million or more a year to pay a rate no lower than what middle income Americans pay. Which side of this debate do you think the electorate will come down on in November?

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