E. Field: The wrong focus

What makes America a prosperous country? One answer is a strong middle class — blue- and white-collar workers with good jobs who spend money buying U.S. products and services.

If businesses and governments cut too many jobs, if the minimum wage is kept low and companies keep sending American jobs overseas, ordinary working people would  have little money to spend, which seriously hurts the U.S. economy.

Most economists (and even Mitt Romney) believe that the time to cut state and federal spending is not during a recession. When the U.S. budget was balanced under former President Clinton, the top income tax rate was 39.6 percent. President Barack Obama wants to return to the 39.6 percent rate for those at the top of the scale, but with a lower rate for the middle class than the rate under Clinton.

Republican leaders at state and federal levels demand cuts to vital government programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, Pell Grants, Medicaid and Head Start, while voting for more tax cuts for the richest people in the country. They are so focused on their personal fortunes and power that they don’t know and don’t care what happens to the 99 percent — the rest of America.

Patriotism means more than flag-waving. Patriotism includes all Americans contributing their fair share and working together to promote the general welfare.

Ellen Field, New Gloucester

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Comments

 's picture

Taxes

I will be the first to admit I don't know all the figures that everyone is talking about but if everyone would look at this country as an American Citizen and not a Republican or Democrat we would be alot better off. Its not the taxing its the spending. Its time all these bureaucrats had to live like the rest of us have to. If you can't afford something then you don't get it but when America's wallet is open for those in Washington to live the good life at the expense of the rest of us its time to zip the wallet. We could afford the programs we have if not for the money that the fatcats in Washington spend on their own selves. Does it really take 6 Escalades to get the president, V-Pres, Speaker of the House and all the others to the airport several times a month or more? They only seem to think that cutting costs is cutting programs that benefit the rest of us and depending on who you are or how you benefit from these programs its "cut hers/his" but not mine. It always seems the only way Congress can balance the budget is cut SS and Medicare. If that had not been put into the "General fund" for them to use for all their little whims and used for only those that "did pay into it" there would be enough. Try getting money from your bank account that you didn't put any money into. Our biggest broken system is the "welfare system" No you can't paint the whole system with one brush but everyone knows someone that welfare is their way of life. We don't help the ones that want to get off the system cause they aren't going to work for less then they receive from unemployment or the welfare system. There is no encouragement to go to work. One can stand on the corner holding a sign saying homeless and beside them is a sign hiring at TD bank. For several weeks an ad in the paper for DD all shifts. hmmmm, Before you go into knit picking that was only a general example. We also have alot of "guests" here that shop alot and drive around in better cars then most of the rest of us. We definitely have a failed system to put it mildly.

 's picture

Did I miss something?

What is the cut to Social Security demanded by Republicans? For the first two years of Obama's term, there were no COLA increases. Did Republicans demand that the president hold them off? For 2011 and 2012, our wonderful Congress-critters actually reduced the employment tax, the item that supposedly pays SS benefits. Did Republicans force Democrats to make the program even less solvent than it already was?

The biggest looming cut to Medicare is ObamaCare. Are you suggesting that Republicans demanded that the latter steal a half trillion from the former?

Ellen, you need to check some of the facts behind your talking points. It's not who cares or doesn't for the 99%, it's that the 51% who pay no federal income tax at all don't give a damn about the 49% who do. It's the fact that those who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living.

 's picture

Yes, you did miss something, the 20th century.

Republicans have opposed Social Security from the day the President signed it into law more than 70 years ago. Last attempt, George W Bush proposed once again to "privatize" (eliminate) Social Security. To imitate AXel, once Medicare has been turned into a voucher program cutting medicare benefits by $6000/year with additional cuts on the table every year there after, Social Security is next on the Republican hit list. And once again they will try to divide Americas by freezing benefits for those over 55 while eliminating it for those under 55. Those are the facts. See Rep. Ryan's budget which was approved by every house republican and praised by Mitt Romney.
ObamaCare has no cuts in Medicare benefits. None. Your statement is another deception. ObamaCare will reduce waste and abuse and cut provider costs. Republicans have proposed as noted above huge real cuts in beneficiary's medical care.
Among the 51% who don't pay any Federal income tax are major US corporations. And yes they don't care about any of us. The PEOPLE who don't pay any Federal income tax pay include many too poor to qualify but who do pay higher percentages of their income in property, sales, state income, and fees than do the 1%. Just check out Romney 14%. Maines who earning under 10,000 pay 20% in taxes.
Ellen, don't change you have the facts exactly right.

 's picture

Ellen, I hope you change.

2011 was the first year SS paid out more than it took in. What was the response from big-government progressives? Let's cut the tax, without cutting current benefits, to help "working" people right now = pander for their votes, and we won't mention that the result will have to be reduced benefits down the road.

ObamaCare has produced nothing but waste and abuse and increased provider costs, passed along to those of us who still pay premiums.

Corporations, including the one you work for, are owned by people and employ people, and already pay almost the highest corporate tax rate on the planet. Except, of course, for those corporations, like GE, that are snuggled up to the administration, and squeeze every dime they can out of loopholes that Obama has no intention of closing, because to do so would scare away too many contributors with deep pockets.

Bait and switch. Start out talking about the income tax and, when faced with facts, switch to all those other regressive taxes that progressives love so much. They must love them because, no matter how much they yammer about them, when they're in charge, they never do anything except make them worse.

 's picture

do you use a Ouija board

The cut in payroll taxes had nothing to do with "pandering", it was the simpliest, quickest, and most efficient method for increasing demand in a Recession caused by the always failing Republican economics (tax cuts for the rich, dergulation, and deficit spending). It will have no impact on SS benefits if responsible people are in charge when the recession ends and economic growth is in the 3.5% range.
Get a new talking point. Corporations pay almost no taxes of any kind in the US and haven't since the 1980's. When I came to Maine in 1982 Corporations in Maine paid 27% of all income taxes paid in the state. In the 90's it was less than 2% and collections have varied between 2 and 4% ever since. Almost every corporation not just GE and certainly not just this administration gets "special tax handling". Any corporation with an international nexus, Oil and Gas industry, Agricultural concerns, Dirty Coal, the list is in the thousands and they have been getting special treatment for years and years and years. The Corporate income tax rate is high, but no one pays it.
You mean like cutting payroll taxes which are regressive. Like cutting Property taxes which all those Progressives at the state level cut with the breaker program in the 90's. Like broadening the sales taxes so that income rates can be reduced along with property taxes which the Republicans overturned because taxes would be added to their golf games.
Republicans love deficits, love regressive taxes, love shifting common costs of government to the poor. We see attempt after attempt and then the misleading, deceptive, PR.

RONALD RIML's picture

Why is the only tax you ever mention the Federal Income Tax

When there are so many other local, state, and federal taxes that people pay????

You are the one who is really missing something..... The whole picture!!

 's picture

Try to focus, old fella.

My entire first paragraph was about Social Security and the federal non-income tax that pays for it. The letter's author brought up a list of federal programs. SS, Medicare and part of Medicaid are funded primarily by federal special purpose taxes. Nearly everything else is funded through the federal income tax, the one tinkered with most often by the boneheads in DC and elsewhere when they start bleating about folks paying their "fair" share and repealing the formerly-Bush-now-Obama tax cuts.

Furthermore, last I knew, DC doesn't dictate (word chosen carefully) tax policy to the states and municipalities - although King Barack I can pass laws all by himself now. He doesn't need Congress or that pesky Constitution.

The big picture in the US looks more every day like the picture in Greece.

RONALD RIML's picture

My, my, my - Your way or the 'Highway'

So the discussion rests not on facts - but on how you wish it structured.

I reckon that's what happens when you wish to manipulate facts to suit yourself.

Of course we may look like Greece since the Republican Party has placed Grover Norquist in the Pantheon.

Just for fun, a partial list of the taxes we pay here in the U.S:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100329131218AAGxXLc

(They forgot hotel/motel taxes - and I'm sure a large number more)

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
Capital Gains Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Court Fines (indirect taxes)
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon)
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Interest Expense (tax on the money)
Inventory Tax I
RS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Local Income Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Road Toll Booth Taxes
Road Usage Taxes (truckers)
Sales Taxes
School Tax
Septic Permit Tax
Service Charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Toll Bridge Taxes Toll
Tunnel Taxes
Trailer Registration
Tax Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers’ Compensation Tax

 's picture

My my, those old fingers ...

... can still copy-and-paste. So which of those, mister nautical accountant, do you propose to cut for the "poor"? While you're at it, please define "poor" and specify how much you would cut and how to make up the difference. No one in the administration will pin those down.

It's apt that you mentioned the septic tax, one of the few times you stay in your area of expertise.

The only new entry in the pantheon is Obama. All hail.

RONALD RIML's picture

I'm simply trying to make an 'Honest Man' out of you

though that appears to be a Herculean task - ranking up there with cleaning out the Augean Stables.

Little Mikey 'One Note' mite eventually admit there is more than the federal income tax that folks pay.....

Jim Cyr's picture

The whole picture ??

Because the Federal Income Tax is the largest thief of the wage earner!!

RONALD RIML's picture

Though I will agree with you that.....

'Wages' (earned income) are taxed more onerously than investments and dividends (unearned income)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is not true Ronald when

That is not true Ronald when you factor in that the money used to pay out dividends is taxed at the corporate rate, 35% prior to me receiving it.

Therefore, dividends are taxed at 50% (35% + 15%).

RONALD RIML's picture

Effective Corporate Tax Rate is 12.1% for 2011

You are so full of Crap, Mark. Try dealing in reality.

With Tax Break, Corporate Rate Is Lowest in Decades

"BY DAMIAN PALETTA

WASHINGTON—U.S. companies are booking higher profits than ever. But the number crunchers in Washington are puzzling over a phenomenon that has just come into view: Corporate tax receipts as a share of profits are at their lowest level in at least 40 years.

Total corporate federal taxes paid fell to 12.1% of profits earned from activities within the U.S. in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That's the lowest level since at least 1972. And well below the 25.6% companies paid on average from 1987 to 2008."

If you were in the 35% bracket - you wouldn't be wasting your time here.

RONALD RIML's picture

Typical Republican - Views Responsibility as 'Theft'

Want some head-cheese with that whine????

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Government misuse and

Government misuse and excessive use of my tax dollars is theft….

I did sacrifice my time to earn that money.

That said, I can understand your philosophy, especially if you are on the receiving end of my sacrifice.

RONALD RIML's picture

While you are on the receiving end of my sacrifices

Your philosophy is so easily understood......

Hooray for Me - and F*ck You!!"

MARK GRAVEL's picture

In addition, attitudes are

In addition, attitudes are changing about the role government plays in our day-to-day lives. We can see that all over the country, most notably Wisconsin.

The scale is tipping to less government and less government spending.

RONALD RIML's picture

Au Contraire...

You will vote for more military and more war.

Wisconsin voted for less unions.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The crux of the issue is

The crux of the issue is union’s influence on public policies, such as salary, pension, and healthcare. All of which are breaking many state and local budgets. In the case of Wisconsin, less unions means less influence on public policy.

Lastly, I will not vote for more military spending. In fact, a simple approach, for example, is to strike the federal budget 40% over four years - across to board. That means each department will receive a 40% budget reduction after four years.
The biggest threat to our national defense is not a reduced budget, it is a default budget.

My message is clear and consistent – smaller government on all sides.

RONALD RIML's picture

Then you won't be voting for Romney....

GOP candidate vows to maintain world’s strongest military if elected

"By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press
May 29

SAN DIEGO — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised Monday to maintain an American military “with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

The likely Republican presidential nominee faced a San Diego crowd estimated at 5,000 in what was billed as a Memorial Day service paying tribute to the nation’s war dead, not a campaign rally. But without naming his general election rival, Romney drew clear contrasts with President Barack Obama on the issue of defense.

The Democratic president has proposed reducing the size of the military after the end of the U.S. combat role in Iraq and plans to removes troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. “We have two courses we can follow: One is to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs,” Romney said outside the city’s Veterans Memorial Center and Museum. “The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I hear what the politicians

I hear what the politicians are saying.

However, at some point the U.S. has to reconcile its debt. Politicians can promise all they want; economic reality will eventually dictate the size of our military – just look to Europe.

RONALD RIML's picture

Too many intractable ideologues that have pledged their oath

to Grover Norquist.

You've got to attack the problem at both ends - spending and revenue.

To take the stance that one will not restore (raise) taxes to levels which they had been - including Bush's 'Temporary' tax cut - is as pig-headed as refusing to cut spending.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Pig-headed? The alternative

Pig-headed?
The alternative views are as follows:

1. Tax rates are already too high, so no need to raise them. Revenues and tax rates are mathematically disjoint, so I would rather see a phase-out in deductions in order to simplify the tax code and eliminate special interests perks.
2. I’ve been hearing your balanced approach for decades, but it never works – tax rates keep going up along with spending. It is time to draw a line in the sand and say “NO”.

RONALD RIML's picture

Yes - Line in the 'Sand'

rather than a line of Reason - You're so predictable.

Taxes have been going down since Reagan - you are just so full of crap as I proved earlier..

And I will show you again - as percentage of our GDP

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here is the plot with Maine

Here is the plot with Maine added into the mix. Most of the states that are cutting public spending are faring better in terms of unemployment than those increasing spending..... things that make you go hmm...

http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=state:ST480000&fdim_y=seasonality:S&dl=en&hl=en&q=texas+unemployment+rate#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=unemployment_rate&fdim_y=seasonality:S&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=state:ST480000:ST060000:ST230000&ifdim=country&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps you missed the main

Perhaps you missed the main point:

"1. Tax rates are already too high"

As for Texas, May unemployment rate is 6.9%, comared to a national average of > 8.0%.

Compare that to a state like California, which is raising taxes - again...

http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=state:ST480000&fdim_y=seasonality:S&dl=en&hl=en&q=texas+unemployment+rate#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=unemployment_rate&fdim_y=seasonality:S&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=state:ST480000:ST060000&ifdim=country&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps my comment touched

Perhaps my comment touched the raw nerve of truth given your emotional response.

My philosophy is to keep as much earnings as possible in the pockets of those who earn it compared to giving to politicians to pander for votes.

Real mature response there Ronald.

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