The United States can afford higher taxes

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When President Obama told Republican leaders that taxes are lower now than they were under President Reagan, they rolled their eyes as if he were crazy.  But in fact, it is true.

Balancing the budget and ending the deficit is supposedly the nation’s highest priority.  How can you do this if taxes are at the lowest level within memory of most living people?  Even tax breaks for special interest are out-of-bounds for discussion.

I don’t like paying taxes any better than the next person.  But if we need to pay higher taxes to maintain essential government services, I’m willing to do my share.   I’d rather pay a modest increase in taxes than cut back schools, libraries, school lunches, medical care for poor people, highway maintenance, and everything else that has to be done to keep taxes abnormally low.  And I’d certainly rather increase taxes moderately on the super-rich than voucherize Medicare or privatize Social Security.

There is, of course, a better way to increase revenues.  That is to re-create the kind of full employment economy that existed in the 1950s and 1960s, and move people from being tax consumers to tax payers.

Click on Ten Charts that Prove the United States is a Low Tax Country for a summary of the facts by the Center for American Progress.   Some of the charts are below.

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Click on Tax Loopholes and the Federal Budget for criticism of the 10th chart by Kevin Drum of Mother Jones.  I think his criticism has merit, but I don’t think it invalidates the message of the 10 charts.

Click on Infographic: Tax Breaks and Budget Cuts for side-by-side comparisons of the cost of various tax breaks for the well-to-do with the cost of programs being considered for elimination.

Click on Top 5 charts on the Bush tax cuts to see how the Bush administration’s policies are still hurting the country.

Click on Taxes At an All-Time Low; Deficits At an All-Time High for analysis on the conservative Outside the Beltway web site.  The headline is an exaggeration; the analysis is well-founded. [Added 6/16/11}

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