Reflections

A Magazine of Theological and Ethical Inquiry from Yale Divinity School

Fiscal Patriotism

A group of wealthy citizens want to see their own taxes raised as a patriotic duty to ensure a stronger economy and a revitalized middle class.

The organization Wealth for the Common Good seeks to end the 2001/2003 tax cuts on the nation’s richest individuals. It calls on Congress and President Obama to let those tax cuts expire at the end of this year.

Some blame the recession or the bush administration for widespread budget cuts and escalating debt. but a new report by Wealth for the Common Good says the roots go back at least five decades, a crisis fueled by both political parties.

Since the mid-twentieth century, America’s highest earners have seen their taxes drop by as much as two-thirds, the report says. The result is billions of dollars lost that would have strengthened the functioning of a middle-class society.

because of this shift in tax policy, the nation has had to borrow money in order to pay for tax cuts going to the rich, the report declares. The tax cuts of the last decade cost the Treasury $700 billion.

“middle-class citizens pay their taxes almost automatically, through payroll deduction,” the report says. “Wealthy investors and global corporations, meanwhile, game the system. They lobby lower rates and loopholes into the tax code.”

America’s top 400 income-earners saw their federal income tax rate fall from 51.2 percent in 1955 to 16.6 percent in 2007, the report says. from 1960 to 2004, the top 0.1 percent of U.S. taxpayers – the wealthiest one in one thousand – saw their federal taxes drop from 60 to 33.6 percent, the report says.

Taxes paid by previous generations of upper-income Americans became the “investments in everything from scientific research to schools that laid the foundation for a vibrant economy and an expanding our middle class,” the report says.

“Our nation’s wealthy a half century ago may not have always enjoyed paying progressive tax rates. but most of them recognized that a healthy society makes investments in broadening opportunity and prosperity. Affluent Americans back then made a commitment to our future well-being – and kept their promise. We seek to honor – and follow – their example.”

Source: www.wealthforcommongood.org 

Issue Title: 
Money and Morals after the Crash
Issue Year: 
2010