What is a true patriot on Tax Day?
For decades our Republican friends have offered a consistent solution to government “cut my taxes.”
And recently that theme has been adopted by the Tea Party folks, who consistently rail against our high taxes.
Are they right? Is the problem in America our high taxes? And is it patriotic to demand those taxes be reduced?
This week Sarah Palin spoke to a large Tea Party gathering in Boston. Palin has been sort of an unofficial Tea Party spokesperson. Sarah noted that Americans had to work until this week to meet their tax obligation…and how terrible that reality was.
But what Palin failed to note, or did not know, was that the tax pay day this year came earlier than any year during the Bush administration and the earliest in the past 30 years.
Yes, the truth is Americans federal tax burden, including individual, payroll, corporate and excise taxes was 20.7 percent in the most recently calculated year, 2006. And today the tax rate is lower than 2006 for all but the highest earners in America.
In fact, our federal tax rate has been relatively steady over the past three decades, with recent declines. Though many ignored the Obama administration’s tax cut for the middle class for its positive effects, tax refunds this year were up by over 9 percent, reflecting that tax cut on middle class Americans.
But even so, our taxes could be too high for all of the past 30 years. Yet if we examine our overall tax structure, including taxes paid for workers by employers, it is the lowest among the G-8 nations except for Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
So noting both its current 30 year low tax rate and the comparison to other large countries there is no way our tax rates are “too high” and no argument that they have not recently been reduced even farther.
So what is it that Republicans, and their Tea Party Club, really want when they demand lower taxes?
Perhaps they want to end Social Security, even though many Tea Party folks receive that support and have paid into the program for many years. Maybe they want to end Medicare, though any of them over 65 probably use that program.
Certainly they want to protest the new health care law that insures that 95 percent of Americans will have access to the health care system.
Maybe they object to the new benefits granted college students and parents that will lower the high costs of college and improve the debt payoff burden.
But some think what they want is something entirely different … some think they want to de-value all that government does for Americans, an old Republican theme.
But that is a foolish agenda.
For example, the U.S. Postal Service does a terrific job, even with all the federal strings troubling its function.
Federal involvement has given America good roads, a strong military, air traffic control, and border security.
Federally funded research that has given us technological advances like the Internet and the micro-chip.
This week I wrote a check to the federal government to pay my taxes, and I did so gladly. Why? Because this is a great nation, a special nation in history, and because I love America and want the best for my country.
And right now the best is supporting the critical needs of the nation, protecting our values and, yes, our benefits from sharing our burdens with each other through our taxes.
It is not patriotic to dismiss the contributions of government to our safety and security. It is simply misinformed.
Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.