Can’t we, as a nation, just get along?

Published 9:47 am Friday, January 28, 2011

In this new age of civility, can’t we all, as Rodney King once famously said, just get along? Can’t we fix our debt and deficits with sound, reasoned judgment and care for the weakest in our society?

In a word, no.

Republicans, seemingly gleeful at the prospect of cutting spending, sporting childlike smiles as they take on the task of risking harm to our economic momentum and social safety net balanced with the needs of the nation, just want us to all agree.

Email newsletter signup

That will not happen.

For although Speaker Boehner says “everything is on the table” everything is not on the table.

The incredible spending binge of the Bush Administration and the recovery spending of the Obama Administration has left the nation with unsustainable deficits far into the future. And to fix the budget and restore the economic strength of the nation, we will have to have tax increases as well as spending cuts.

Republicans say tax increases are out of the question.


Did you know that in 2009, not a banner year for most Americans, the top 25 Hedge Funds managers in the US earned a collective $25.3 billion dollars, averaging just over a billion each for their efforts at creating…well, nothing?

And did you know that while your earnings were taxed at about 28 percent, theirs were taxed at 15 percent?

And we cannot raise their taxes?

Did you know that, while 93 percent of Americans do not have dividend income, the top 1 percent of the richest Americans earned 53.6 percent of their income from business and capital gains? Capital gains taxed at 15 percent, which is the lowest rate for such income since 1933.

So while you pay 28 percent, the richest Americans pay 15 percent taxes.

And we cannot raise their taxes.

Did you know that our current tax revenues are at 15 percent of GDP, which is the lowest tax income rate since the 1950s? The average tax collections have been 18 percent over the last 40 years.

And we cannot raise the taxes on some in our society?

Social Security is under attack by Republicans, but it is safe and solid until at least 2037, and could be solid for 100 years longer with a simple fix. Currently, if you make $100,000 in a year you will pay $6,200 into Social Security, or 6.2 percent of income.

But if you make $1 million dollars you will pay $6,622 into Social Security, .66 percent of income. The richest Americans pay the smallest percent into Social Security.

And we cannot raise their taxes to protect Social Security?

And yes, we absolutely must cut spending, but not on the backs of working Americans.

Not while corporations hide as much as $70 billion a year in taxes due. Sure, we can cut corporate tax rates, as long as corporate tax payments are a net increase and the fraud is ended.

Not while our military budget is nearly $800 billion a year, almost as much as the rest of the world spends annually. U.S. military expenditures are 46.5 percent of world spending…the closest behind is China, spending 6.6 percent of world military spending.

Not while we still give virtually free oil and gas drilling leases on federal land to Big Oil.

Our Republican friends would have us cut spending on our retirement, our health care, our unemployment protection, and our home equity by taking away its tax deduction. Republicans would do this knowing the effect diminishes the American middle class and benefits only the top 1 percent of Americans.

Can’t we all just get along? No.

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