Guest editorial…The rich get richer, the rest pay the price

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No sane person will argue that the United States treasury, and by extension the treasuries of the majority of states, is overdrawn.

That, not to mention the $14 trillion in arrears, has to be fixed.

The problem, it seems, is our elected officials, both state and federal and in some places local, are having trouble putting reality ahead of habit.

The reality is that the corporate establishment and the super-wealthy have raked in cash in the last 20-30 years at a rate unseen in recent history, and are delinquent in paying their fair share of taxes.

The habit is our politicians, Republicans and Democrats; liberals, moderates and conservatives; old and young and male and female still are crafting legislation and making decisions that suit corporate lobbyists and those who spend money on their campaigns.

The result is a dogmatic reflex to automatically attack budget deficits by taking funds away from the masses in the form of cuts with little or no thought of taking in more revenue.

This country has a revenue-collection problem, not a spending problem.

There was a time when touching Social Security and/or Medicare were like touching the proverbial third rail—lethal for an elected official.

Now, the third rail is tax hikes, particularly if it’s the rich and “corporatocracy” that are targeted.

That is why a group called “U.S. Uncut” was recently formed. It is a spin-off from “Uncut U.K.,” which came into being because conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron levied brutal austerity measures on the public while proposing more tax cuts for businesses that are already awash in tax loopholes.

These groups are insisting—even with bullhorns while standing the front of corporate headquarters—that these companies that are enriching themselves off the masses pay their fair share so the basic needs of the masses are not neglected.

That, strange as it may seem in this morally bent atmosphere in which we live, is proper.

The Government Accountability Office has released reports dating back to the mid-1990s, showing that corporate taxation is lacking.

According to the GAO, 67 percent of corporations paid no taxes from 1998-2005. Individuals, folks like you, pay between 25-32 percent of your income.

In 2000, 94 percent of corporations paid five percent or less of their earnings.

There are arguments from conservative eco­no­mists and media groups, like the Wall Street Journal editorial board, that these numbers fail to count the huge amounts of corporate profit that go to stockholders, for which individuals ultimately pay taxes.

This and some other accounting constructs contribute to the GAO’s findings; however there is no doubt that U.S. corporations shelter a great deal of their profits in offshore tax havens and use other loopholes, provided by Congress in tax laws, to avoid paying taxes.

Instead of looking to cut programs that are vital to the poor, elderly, disabled or even the middle class, our lawmakers need to find some courage, go cold turkey and wean themselves off corporate contributions so government can be used for the people instead of the corporate elite.

And politicians like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is advocating stripping public employees of their rights, should pause and remember they, too, are public employees.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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