Opinion: Let's Re-Brand Tax Day as 'Invest in America Day'

Friday, April 13, 2012 - 02:43 PM

Many Americans feel a certain sinking in their stomach this weekend, as we approach that national non-holiday marker: Tax Day. April 15th has long been vilified. Paying taxes isn't fun for most; and filing taxes is just as bad. In the end, most people would rather pay less.

The one more notable exception, of course, is Warren Buffett, whose crusade to pay a higher tax rate (which is, I admit, different than "paying more") has earned his name the top-perch on an Obama initiative that is sure to play a recurring role in this election season.

"The Buffett Rule" was inspired by the revelation that billionaire Buffett pays a lower tax rate on his vast income than his secretary does. This misalignment has become a rallying point in this season of the 99 percent and the 1 percent, and now will dog Mitt Romney who had legally and successfully accrued incredible wealth and shielded an incredible amount from taxation. The fact that Romney isn't portrayed as a criminal - rather a "vulture capitalist" - demonstrates that this is a policy problem, not just an enforcement one…a policy issue that the Democrats are belatedly trying to solve and that a President Romney, presumably, would not address.

Calling for higher taxes on the wealthiest isn't new, and the debate over the Bush Tax Cuts raged through the '08 election and the 2010 midterms, but affixing Buffett's name to the drive helps reposition it. It's no longer a campaign to "soak the rich" -- such an effort would appeal to many, but would smack as "class warfare" to many others. How could this be class warfare, though, when the 1 percent of the 1 percent believes in it? Instead, this is a fairness campaign. And it's a patriotic campaign.

While Americans may get uneasy punishing people for their wealth and success, we are comfortable asking those winners to acknowledge their gains were made in a system to which we all contributed. That's all the Buffett rule suggests; but it's not the operating system of Bain capital.

The key to this fight, though, is that Buffett can't be the only one ready to pony up. We all have to be willing to pay our fair share -- as most of us do, with some complaint and trepidation, but in a timely and orderly fashion.

The challenge for progressives is that too often we buy into anti-tax rhetoric. However, taxes are what fund our national aspirations, strengthen our common resources and contribute to our communities. We can't hate on taxes then cheer for Buffett -- we have to take the political risky step of embracing taxes and celebrating what they pay for.

In the past, Living Liberally has played with calling April 15th "Invest in America Day" (Dunkin Donuts has given away free donuts on Tax Day with the promise of making a bad day better - in the past, I had to deliberate whether to enjoy the sugary treat, or reject the anti-tax rhetoric… in the end, the Boston Kreme won),  and just last year progressive organizations held gatherings at libraries, post offices, schools, transit hubs, police stations and other public institutions funded by our tax dollars.

I'm not saying it won't sting if you have to write a check; and I wish the process were simpler too -- but this Tax Day, we can't just cheer for Buffett…we should cheer with him. This isn't only Buffett against Grover Norquist, or Obama against Romney or Occupy against the Tea Party. This is all of us -- being FOR all of us.

So join the debate. And Happy Tax Day.


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Comments [4]


thx to help me to realize my dream and visit and this one for all detail of the travel

Apr. 23 2012 07:13 PM

Taxing the Intelligence of Politicians

Why is it that I don’t have high expectations for the “Romney Rule”, the “Buffett Rule” or any “Rule” that politicians are capable of formulating? Oh yes! It’s because politicians are only capable of thinking in a one track / rut of either cut taxes or raise taxes. If you think I meant that Republicans only think of one of these options and Democrats only the other then you are stuck in a parallel rut. The answer to taxes and fair tax treatment is not to be found in the minds or plans that our members of Congress, our President or President-in-hoping, the political parties, or well pretty much any group who harp about one point or another.

The tax issue is a challenging test for our politicians; they have an opportunity to make a difference, to create an approach and policy for taxation. Developing a solution to the tax issue would allow an intelligent politician to demonstrate his/her competence and appreciation of a crucial element of our governmental and democratic system. They could show the public how to make a far more sensible tax system than the one that has evolved, been distorted and corrupted by politicians and special-interests to the disadvantage of the general public, and that has not kept current with either the financial realities of our economic environment or with the changing impacts that the current policies have created to the detriment of the nation’s fiscal viability.

The “Romney Rule”, the “Buffett Rule”, the “Bush tax cuts”, and the plethora of quaint platitudes employed to support any given politician’s position do not demonstrate an understanding of the problem or the complexity of taxes and tax policies’ consequences within our economy and society. These catch-phrases and sound-bites demonstrate rather the true problem, burden and obstacle to Americans and their taxes. Politicians and their ilk continue to show that they do not understand, have a clue or even know enough to know they are the most significant factor that constitutes the tax problem. They may be the worst obstacle to addressing our tax problem, but they are only marginally running ahead of numerous groups who have their own ‘simple’ solutions. I will admit that their proposals are simple, but not that they are solutions.

Even though politicians can’t think of a rational tax system, they could present an alternate version of their own plan that keeps everything that they see as the solution but which adds a ‘consequences’ plan. If the results that they ‘promise’ will result from their plan don’t materialize then the ‘consequence’ portion of the plan kicks in. It’s sort of a “I didn’t know that was going to happen” safety valve.

I don’t expect politicians to do this of course. It has three problems: 1. They would have to think of a ‘consequence policy’, 2. They would have to

... the rest can be found in now4yourconsideration 's blog

Apr. 15 2012 12:02 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

How about "Pay up or Shut up" Day?

And the new measure of patriotism should be the percentage of earnings paid to the federal government! FICA (self+employer) PLUS their marginal tax rate. That would make the most patriotic citizen the person who earns $106,799. The next dollar pushes 41.3 cents into the Federal treasury. The next dollar after that yields 28 cents. The self-employed can take the super-patriot status since both halves of the FICA kick-in come out of their pocket! (Yes, I am self-employed.)

Fix the FICA Caps. It should be multipliers of median income NOT fixed dollar cut-offs.

Reduce the FICA rates back to pre-Reagan levels. The Greenspan Commission DOUBLED FICA rates in order to build a surplus to pay for the Baby Boom. The goverment borrowed the excess and is now sh*tting a brick over how to pay it back. Time to roll back those rates.

Allow the MediCare eligible permission to use VA facilities for their healthcare. Saves money all around.

Apr. 15 2012 11:32 AM

How about National Political Gimmick Day to promote awareness for the naive and easily distracted?

Speaking of gimmicks there is "Invest in America Day" or as it is known at Solyndra and the General Services Administration, "The Flush Heard Around the World".

Apr. 14 2012 08:50 PM

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