Senate Republicans derailed the Buffett Rule bill pushed by the Democrats and President Barack Obama Monday that would force the nation’s top income earners to pay a minimum federal income tax rate of thirty percent. Republicans used the day before federal taxes are due to defy Mr. Obama on one of his signature election year issues. By an almost party-line vote of fifty one to forty give, United States Senators voted to keep the bill alive but fell nine votes short of the sixty needed to continue debating the measure. The outcome of failure was no surprise to anyone. The vote was designed to win over public sentiment and to make life difficult for Senators who are facing close races this election year. The vote was hardly an attempt to push the Buffet Rule into law.
Senate Republicans said that the measure was divisive and called it a distraction from the nation’s real problems. The thinking is that it would not significantly impact the nation’s economy and therefore it really wasn’t worth implementing. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said that the legislation would do nothing in the way of job creation or gas prices or economic recovery and does nothing but draw attention away from the issues that the American people are most concerned about.
Mr. Obama issued a statement to denounce the defeat of the measure saying that once again Republicans chose to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. He said that it was just plain wrong that millions of average American people pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires who not only have the resources to hire accountants and lawyers to make sure they take advantage of every loop hole available, but our tax system itself augments the disparity by allowing the wealthy to pay their taxes at lower rates. But if it was such an obviously unfair system, how did it get implemented in the first place?
The Republicans didn’t implement this unfair tax system that has the wealthy paying lower tax rates all by themselves. At some point in our past the Democrats were collaborators in this unfair tax system setup. They actively participated in passing legislation that would give top income earners a more advantageous tax rate and/or they didn’t care enough about their average constituents to fight the good fight in order to keep tax breaks for the wealthy from becoming law. It would have been easy to keep that bullshit from ever hitting the books. If the Democrats wanted to protect the middle class they would have blocked unfair tax rates when it came up for a vote the way the Republicans now block just about everything that comes up for a vote even when legislation has its roots in conservative circles.
Now that the issue of tax fairness has gained widespread attention, Democrats want to flipsides. The people who were complicit with the Republicans and even competed with them to win the favor of wealthy income earners now wants to change direction and says that the whole script is too unfair. But the truth of the matter is that it is just as unfair now as it was when you did it.
Tax unfairness isn’t something that just crept up on us. Democrats helped put this disparity in place and now they want to feign fairness and out the Republicans as trying to protect the wealthy. The Democrats protect the wealthy as well. And that includes Mr. Obama. They might not wear their colors of disparity as proudly as the Republicans. They may even have come to some awareness that the stacked games they played in the past are now coming back to bite us all in the ass. But the soapbox, high ground morals that they want to flaunt now just doesn’t cut it. They helped put the disparity in place and they have to own their responsibility for it.
With presidential and congressional elections approaching this November the two major political parties are pulling out all the stops to win favor with the masses. Battles are waging over an economy that is trying to sputter its way out of the doldrums. Everyone knows that a sputtering economy spells trouble for the political party in charge. And right now it’s the Democrats in the driver’s seat with the Republicans riding shotgun itching for their chance to take the helm back.
The Republicans are focused like a laser beam on protecting the interest of their wealthy constituents whether they need the protection or not. Fairness depends on perspective and while it might be easy to say that the wealthy should be forced to pay the same tax rates as everyone else, Republicans are thick in the rhetoric that it would be unfair to raise their taxes on just a few Americans at a time when we need them to use their wealth to create more jobs. It’s called trickledown economics and we tried that tactic with the previous administration. The rich only got richer while jobs evaporated. Rich people simply don’t share their wealth so freely.
The Democrats are focused as well. But their focus is to act like a weather vane stuck in political winds. They went along with the idea that helping the rich lift their yachts will help everybody else lift their rubber duck. But now that the yachts are high enough and strong enough to withstand a tsunami, rubber ducks are still in danger of going down when there is so much as a ripple in a bathtub.
Now we need to correct our collective course from the path of destruction that both political parties have chosen for the country. While Republicans are still rooted to the idea of just helping the wealthy and everyone else will benefit eventually, Democrats appear to have a better grasp on the reality of our situation. While it is true that the wealthy income earners do better when we give them lower tax rates and other political giveaways that pander to their interest at the expense of everyone else, it is also true that the wealthy will do better when we institute policies that assure that everybody will do better.
But the idea that Democrats can point to Republicans and say that it’s entirely their fault is simply not true. Both parties have contributed to the income and wealth disparity that is allowing the rich to get richer while the poor get left behind. Both parties have benefited from catering to the wants and desires of big money under the guise that it is going to help everybody. If Democrats really cared like they now say that they do we would have never been in the situation we are in now that gives the wealthy every advantage.