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Romney tax plan isn't about fairness
President Obama’s “Buffett Rule” is a much more fair tax plan
The following op-ed by Senator Vincent Hughes appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot News this week.
It’s that time of year again. Today is Tax Day. In households across America, we collectively groan as we file another tax return. While it’s never fun to pay taxes, the truth is we wouldn’t dread it so much if the system was fair.
That’s where part of this dismay comes from: Average Americans are getting the short end of the stick, while others get away without doing their fair share by taking advantage of loopholes in the system. Even wealthy Americans agree this isn’t fair. Billionaire Warren Buffett is one of them.
Buffett famously pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, and he’s not the only one. Many taxpayers earning more than $1 million a year pay lower tax rates than many middle-class families. That means some of America’s wealthiest pay lower tax rates than many teachers, firefighters and police officers.
To fix this imbalance, President Barack Obama proposed the “Buffett Rule,” which is based on the simple principle of fairness and the idea that everyone should do their fair share and play by the same rules.
Here’s how it works: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class families. And if you make less than $250,000 a year — like 98 percent of American families do — your taxes won’t go up.
The Buffett Rule is one step among many we need to take to keep investing in prosperity for all Americans without increasing the deficit so that everyone gets a fair shot and does their fair share.
Asking the wealthiest Americans to do their part is not class warfare — it’s just fair. Of course, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes the Buffett Rule. Romney’s tax plan asks the middle class to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that we can’t afford.
Gov. Mitt Romney’s plan gives the average millionaire a $250,000 tax cut, but raises taxes on millions of families making less than $40,000 a year. That’s no way to grow an economy that has always been only as strong as its middle class. Romney would end three middle-class tax cuts that the president fought for and won. That would mean 18 million households would have to pay an average of $900 more in taxes.
Here in Pennsylvania, Romney would raise taxes on 630,000 households, including nearly a quarter of all families with children. Romney plans to pay for his tax cuts for the wealthy by turning Medicare into a voucher program and by gutting Social Security. That’s just a polite way of saying that he’ll pay for it by taking away money that responsible Americans paid into those programs over a lifetime of hard work. These are programs that my constituents here in Philadelphia count on to retire in comfort.
In Pennsylvania alone, more than 2.5 million seniors rely on Social Security and 2.3 million rely on Medicare. A plan like Romney’s would cut Social Security benefits by up to 40 percent for some workers and raise the cost of prescription drugs for 236,000 Pennsylvania seniors. Congressional Republicans’ plans similar to Romney’s would increase seniors’ costs by $6,350 by privatizing Medicare.
Even deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not enough to pay for Romney’s tax cuts and a defense buildup without a strategy behind it. That means there would be additional cuts to Head Start, local schools, Pell Grants that help students pay for college, and investments in our transportation and infrastructure. All these cuts would hurt the middle class.
At the very core of this debate — and this election — is a straightforward choice. We either can continue to level the playing field and make the investments that made the American middle class the envy of the world or we can keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, widen loopholes for big corporations, and stick seniors and the middle class with the bill. But we can’t do both.
While President Obama is fighting to restore economic security and fairness for the middle class, Romney is fighting to maintain the status quo so his fellow millionaires can keep taking advantage of loopholes in the system and doing less than their fair share. America will not thrive without a healthy and robust middle class. The idea of America is a country where anyone can achieve their dreams through hard work and responsibility.
If we are going to succeed as a nation, we must level the playing field so everyone has the same shot at success.
You can find out more specifics about the 2012-13 State Budget and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes