Tax the Rich: Class Warfare or Math?

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President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress on Sept. 8, 2011. (credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress on Sept. 8, 2011. (credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

While it seems logical that most of the discussion about President Obama’s American Jobs Act should be about jobs and how they can become a sustainable boost to our economy, that’s not where the discussion is going.

Rather, the discussion surrounding the American Jobs Act is all about the rich and how this country taxes them.

The rich and their role in our economy is now the central discussion about how our government can right our country’s lurching fiscal ship.

President Obama and some of his fellow Democrats say that it is time to tax the wealthy and by doing so, our country will bring trillions of dollars into the treasury.

House Republicans say that the targeted wealthy are actually job creators that this economy needs and taxing them will only harm the current economic situation.

I don’t think that either party is making an infallible case for their side of the debate.

Taxing the rich will not singlehandedly make a difference to a country spending trillions on Social Security, Defense and Medicare. And ignoring them completely is not going to inspire millionaires to suddenly hire a fleet of unemployed Americans to rebuild our country.

What neither party wants to admit is that the “rich” are a very effective political red herring in this debate. It allows both parties to continue to avoid tackling the serious problems with the federal budget, namely the aforementioned three major sections of it.

If the rich have somehow been allowed to go about their lives without paying their fair share in taxes, it’s not one party’s fault. Remember that Democrats owned both Congress and the White House after 2008. As a party, there was very little they were not capable of doing.

And if memory serves me correctly, not only were the rich somehow allowed to retain their lightly taxed existence under Democratic rule, but President Obama also passed on an opportunity to repeal the vaunted Bush Tax Cut.

So, did some brilliant accountant just now realize that Warren Buffet pays less taxes than his secretary, or are we simply watching populist politics at its best?

I think you know the answer.

The fact is that both parties are beholden to wealthy Americans and corporations. It’s not like Americans making $40,000 a year are going to $500 a plate dinners to raise $1 billion dollars for President Obama or the eventual Republican nominee.

It’s also likely that the wealthy will find new and improved ways to keep more of their money, even if their tax rate increases. That’s why their wealthy, they find new ways to keep their money. That’s why they hire fleets of accountants.

But actually getting more tax money out of the wealthy is not the goal here. It’s not even about the rich. It’s about everyone who is not rich, and what they think about the wealthy in this country.

Do the majority of voters feel that they are the enemy and need to pay up, or do they think that demonizing the wealthy actually demonizes small business owners?

That’s the bet Democrats and Republicans are making right now.
About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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