Nation needs to hear rest of the story

Published 10:35 am Friday, March 27, 2009

President Barack Obama is right when he argues that the nation needs to improve our schools to be globally competitive.

He is right when he states that we must revise a health care system that is both too expensive and too ineffective. And he is right when he warns that we must develop alternative energy resources now rather than in the next oil crisis.

But there is more to the story and some is being left unspoken.

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The current political climate is strongly colored by the punishment of the working class in job losses, retirement funds destroyed, and an ever-increasing awareness of just how inequitable our economy has become in favoring the richest Americans.

The middle class is suffering, and that is preventing the administration from telling, “the rest of the story.”

The truth is we must take on all of the challenges the President has posed, and we must succeed in attaining better health care for all Americans, and better educated young people for the future of the country as the dominant innovation engine for the planet, and better resources for energy that make us independent of the Middle East. But, we cannot achieve these goals without sacrifice and commitment by all Americans.

That means that the wealthiest Americans, like Warren Buffet, must accept that they must pay a fuller share of the cost of government. The Bush tax cuts for these highest incomes must be allowed to expire.

Further, the favorable treatment of income derived from dividends must be taxed at rates identical to other forms of earned income. And the cap on Social Security contributions must be raised or eliminated altogether.

And taxation gaps like that which taxes hedge fund managers at lower rates than working Americans must be closed.

Further, corporations hiding taxable income offshore waiting for federal “tax holidays” must be required to pay their full and fair taxes on their income.

These taxes provide highways and airports and rails and seaports and educated workers.

It is unacceptable that these American mega corporations feel empowered to avoid supporting the infrastructure that the rest of us pay for with our taxes every day.

And, if all of these changes in tax policy do not generate enough taxation to secure Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, then the rest of us will have to do our part to ensure that our retirements are safe, our health care is not considered a luxury and our children’s education does not become victim to private schools versus underfunded public schools, an economic tiering of our children’s futures.

That means we may have to agree to allow the recent tax cuts granted the middle class to expire in two years.

If that is not enough to balance our budgets and restore fiscal sanity to the federal government, then we must accept a tax increase to protect our values.

There is a value in guaranteed health care, and in cheaper energy and in better schools. If we must pay for those values by our taxes, so be it.

Our Republican friends will tell us that only tax cuts matter, but they have failed to insure that our nation will be competitive, our families assured good health care and our children granted the best education in the world.

They have offered instead that less is somehow more.

But less is not more when we are trapped in foreign oil costs, losing our edge in education, and losing Americans in a health system that is as unfair as it is unaffordable.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.