Letters to the Editor

Wealthy can well afford to help reduce deficit

Republicans' insistence on fixing the deficit without replacing the revenue lost to the Bush tax cuts will devastate vital programs. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and national defense will founder. Government investments in infrastructure and research will starve. Why should the very rich pay more in taxes? Here's why:

  • Since the 1970s, almost all of the increase in national income has gone to the very rich. The top sliver, one-tenth of 1 percent, used to get 2 percent of the total income; now it absorbs more than 10 percent.
  • The top income tax bracket was 90 percent under President Dwight Eisenhower. Even under President Ronald Reagan, for most of his term, it was 50 percent. Today, it's only 35 percent.
  • The very rich enjoy many tax breaks most of us don't. Here are just two examples: Much of their income derives from capital gains, which are taxed at only 15 percent, about half the rate that applied back in the 1970s; those capital gains, along with any other income they receive above $107,000, are exempt from the payroll tax.
  • These tax breaks explain whyWarren Buffet could truthfully say that billionaires like him pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries do. Put the capital gains rate back at 20 percent, eliminate the cap on income subject to the payroll tax, raise the top bracket for people making over a million dollars a year to, say, 40 percent, and the debt crisis will disappear.

    Raymond Dominick