December 21, 2012

Letters to the editor: Doing the math on proposed tax hikes

Readers take issue with other readers’ opinions about the impact of federal tax increases.

Regarding Monday's Another View by David Gray ("Tax hike on highest earners would not hurt small business," Dec. 17):

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Congress and the White House hope to agree on a plan to avoid automatic tax increases and government spending cuts.

The Associated Press

In his editorial, he attempts to make the point that allowing the tax rates on the "wealthy" (those earning more than $250,000 per year) to return to the Clinton-era rates "would raise a trillion dollars over the next decade, money that could be used to not only pay down debt but to strengthen Medicare," etc. This is pure "Obamatalk."

Does Mr. Gray (and the staff at the Portland Press Herald) realize that a trillion dollars over a decade is only $100 billion annually? Even if Congress gave Obama 100 percent of the $1.6 trillion tax increase he's asking for, that's only $160 billion annually.

We have a federal government that has been running an annual budget deficit of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion under Obama. (It's difficult to be precise on this, as the president and his Senate haven't even presented a budget to Congress in the last four years -- which they are required to do by the Constitution.)

So if the feds are (and have been) running annual budget deficits of $1.2 trillion-plus, how in the world do you conclude that raising taxes on the "wealthy" by $160 billion annually (if you gave Obama 100 percent of the tax increase he's asking for) will provide us with "money that could be used to not only pay down debt but to strengthen Medicare," etc.?

Looks to me like the annual deficit would simply fall to $1.040 trillion ($1.2 trillion less $160 billion), and the national debt would continue to grow by at least that amount until the Saudis and/or the Chinese simply decide they don't want any more U.S. debt. (Welcome to Greece.)

Houston, the U.S. has a spending problem! (Which dwarfs the tax increase that Obama presents as the answer to our dire situation.)

Jim Burke


In response to the letter titled "Increase in tax revenues won't stop excess spending," Dec. 6:

James Waterhouse wrote that with taxes reinstated to pre-Bush era tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of the population, President Obama will still be spending more than "$1 trillion next year and every year of his term to continue the spending he wants." He offers no sources or specific spending items in his argument.

President Obama is indeed seeking to cut spending to go along with increased revenue.

According to The New York Times, online version, Dec. 6, Obama's proposal "includes $580 billion in adjustments to health and entitlement programs, including $248 billion to Medicare and $72 billion to Medicaid." The administration also "counts a savings of $1.1 trillion from the ending of the American combat mission in Iraq and the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan."

There is more cutting on the table to be discussed, but to characterize the president as being a spendthrift, willing to send the country "on a course of a death spiral for our economy, jobs and, thus, our nation," is ridiculous.

Warren Buffett, a U.S. citizen and one of the wealthiest men in the world, believes the United States should further regulate Wall Street, increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, eliminate many tax loopholes and bring to ground much of the offshore hiding of American corporate taxable profits.

The reiterating of right-wing media talking points without fact or reasoning is becoming very dangerous to the well-being of our middle class-based economy.

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