Believe in better
U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson
Apr 7, 2011 -
As you may recall, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization, announced last year that almost half (47%) of all households paid no federal income taxes for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s not fair.
Earlier this year, the House Republican leadership appointed me to an important post, the Joint Committee on Taxation, which includes the top five members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committee. Recently we held a meeting to discuss comprehensive tax reform with veteran politicos James A. Baker and Dick Gephardt to learn their expertise from the 1986 tax reform trenches.
I went out of my way to stress that it’s just not fair for nearly half of American households to not pay taxes. To make matters worse, in 2008, the top 25% of taxpayers earned 67% of income, yet paid 86% of federal taxes. That doesn’t make sense at all. How is that fair?
I for one feel like I know many of my constituents fall in the category of the hard-working 25% of the taxpayers shouldering the burden of 86% of the nation’s income taxes. They tell me that they don’t feel like they’re rich. They sometimes get by month-to-month and don’t “flash the cash.” For the most part, they are not the kind of people you would see featured on the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
As America goes through another springtime rite of passage – Tax Day – and talk turns to overall tax reform, I hope you’ll remember one thing: Beware of politicians who claim that they only want to tax the “wealthy.” If you think you pay too much in taxes, then these politicians think you’re “rich.” In that case – watch your wallet.
More important, politicians eager to tax the “rich” just serve to divide America. It’s not fair that half of the working population subsidizes the other half. This dichotomy makes a huge wedge that only separates us further and entrenches a large part of society dependent on the government, not themselves. I think we should model self-reliance and economic freedom for our children.
Being an American is a privilege, not a right. We’ve reached a financial tipping point and we’re going to have to make some tough budget decisions. Wouldn’t it be easier if we felt like we are all in this together?
Imagine what could happen if every single American had a vested interest in this great democracy – even if that means paying just one buck a month in income taxes. People from Alaska to Maine would truly be investing in the future of our nation – and contributing to our economic well-being – for our children and grandchildren. We’re all in this together and together we can champion economic freedom and rekindle prosperity.
If we’re going to truly envision and create a brighter tomorrow, we must all chip in, we must all do our part and we must all believe in better. The America I know and love is full of great patriots eager to claim, “united we stand!”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best, “I am for everybody paying his fair share.”