Misinformation gets us nowhere
Andrew Maggard in a recent letter to this paper equates progressives with Marxists. Marxism denotes moving society from capitalistic democracy to socialism and thence to communism. He should take note that it is a progressive Congress and administration that is doing all it can to save American capitalism from the near collapse that took place before the present administration came to office.
And name-calling doesn’t engender cooperation. It ends the discussion and compromise necessary for successful governance. Experience tells me that thinking conservatives don’t close themselves off from debate of the issues, lest they miss the good idea that might arise from it. Think former Senator John Warner, Republican from Virginia, a true conservative.
Maggard’s statement that 47 percent of Americans do not pay taxes isn’t true. It’s just a misinterpretation of the facts. Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. Every American who buys gasoline, groceries, clothing, etc., pays taxes, federal as well as state. The working poor pay more in payroll taxes than they receive through benefits. About three-quarters of all American households pay more in payroll taxes than in income taxes.
For instance, the middle 20 percent of households made from $35,400-$52,100 in 2006. That’s the last year for which the Congressional Budget Office has released data. Taking into account both taxes and tax credits, this group paid a total income tax rate of just 3 percent. But this household would have paid 0.8 percent in corporate taxes (through stocks it owned), 0.9 percent in gas and other federal excise taxes, and 9.5 percent in payroll taxes, for a total of 14.2 percent. Millionaires and billionaires paying up to 35 percent after all the loopholes they get doesn’t sound so harsh, does it?
Then there is the idea that helping the poor and unemployed is a "distribution of wealth." Helping others is in America’s DNA. It’s pretty coldhearted and un-American to resent helping our less fortunate neighbors.
The kind of diatribe offered by Mr. Maggard only widens the rift between parties and stops forward movement of the quest to solve the country’s problems. Misinformation gets us nowhere. I choose to look forward to bigger and better ideas.