I am part of America’s middle class and I want to pay higher taxes.
Before you call me insane, let me explain that I want to pay higher taxes in the same way that I “want” to work-out, eat less chocolate, and watch less television. I know that regardless of how much I complain while I’m exercising, I know that at the end of the day I will be satisfied that I invested in a healthy future. This is the ever-important concept of delayed gratification and unfortunately previous generations did not apply this concept to the federal budget.
I’m assuming that everyone knows by now that President Obama has not balanced the federal budget for the last four years. I’m also assuming that the majority of the population knows that our deficit is dangerously high (eg. $16 trillion). But did you know that our federal budget has only been balanced four out of the last 35 years? Well, you already knew that if you watched former President Clinton ‘s speech at the Democratic National Convention (I’ll let you guess which administration balanced the budget). Given America’s sordid history of reckless accounting, it should be no surprise that this generation is finally going to have to pay for it. Please stop saying that we must solve the debt crisis for the future generation and start doing it for your self.
I’m aware that one cannot just simply take the high road and elect to pay higher taxes, but I know that I have the guts to vote for a lower paycheck so that my country does not fail. There is no realistic way the government can lower taxes or keep them at their current level without slashing federal spending. We can’t just de-fund PBS, NPR, and Planned Parenthood and call it a day (Federal contributions to those three programs combined make up around 1% of the federal budget). We would need to eliminate historic programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, which help keep millions Americans afloat. As I mentioned earlier, I am not wealthy. A cut in my paycheck would mean I have to make hard budgeting decisions. But I am ready and willing to face those circumstances for the betterment of the nation’s status quo. I do not ask what my country can give me; I ask what I can give to my country.
As a college graduate, I am willing to pay more taxes so that the future generation has the same opportunity, regardless of their financial status. As a daughter, I will make sacrifices to make sure that my parents’ generation has Medicare and Social Security. As a woman, I want to make sure low-income women are not burdened by the high cost of female-specific health expenses, from contraception to mammograms. As an American, I want to make sure that the men and women who serve my country come home to the same healthcare privileges that I enjoy. And as a human-being, I know that we should stop forcing the world’s densely populated and poverty-stricken subtropical regions from reaping the consequences of America’s selfish ignorance to climate change.
We are all aware of the consequences of greed and self-interest yet we refuse to yield any of our income to those who are hurting the most. Yes, Governor Romney and President Obama, you are correct. The middle class is hurting. We are still burdened by Wall Street’s failures. But we, too, will have to pay for the mistakes of the wealthy if we truly want to see this nation recover. We must not have a one-sided approach to reducing the deficit. I understand that the middle class is economically diverse, with incomes ranging from $32,500 to $250,000 and I apologize for lumping this huge economic class under one umbrella. There are certainly members of the middle class who cannot and should not pay higher taxes. And, I also understand that members of the middle class can afford higher taxes but don’t trust the government with their hard-earned cash. But the fact of the matter is that we must raise revenue on those who can afford it while making government programs more efficient and less costly or else we will either lose major government programs, worsen the current economy or both.
We must cross the partisan barbed wire fence and do what is necessary for the nation. After all, the U.S. credit rating was not downgraded because of the financial crisis; it was downgraded because our politicians failed to unify days before the federal government reached a fiscal cliff. We have spent the past three decades putting ourselves before the benefit of the nation. Raising taxes should not be political suicide. If you ask me, it’s simply patriotic.
Lindsey Garner is a healthcare consultant, policy wonk, and blogger living in Atlanta, Georgia. She believes that an informed population is the best political actor. Her blog is http://www.lets-be-real.org.