The Real Cost Of Tax Reform
“How can you Swiss people be so docile about paying such high taxes?”
by Rick Steves
[This is a repost from his Facebook Rick Steve’s Europe.]
More money than many Americans make in their entire lifetime. That’s what Congressional Republicans are voting to give me as a tax break.
That’s right: If Republicans in Congress get their way, I just saved a couple million dollars on the change in the inheritance tax alone. What about you?
Our government already spends more than it takes in, and this tax giveaway will make it worse. But that plays right into Congressional Republicans’ strategy to shrink the government: First, they cut taxes by $1.5 trillion (mostly benefiting the rich). Then, to balance the budget, they’ll claim that the only solution is to gut programs (such as Social Security and Medicare) designed to protect America’s poor and working class.
I once asked my Swiss friend Olle, “How can you Swiss people be so docile about paying such high taxes?” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Well, what’s it worth to live in a country where there’s no hunger, no homelessness, and where everyone — regardless of the wealth of their parents — has access to quality healthcare and education?”
I believe a national budget is a moral document. It declares who we are as a nation. Decency requires compassion and help for our poor. Stability requires a healthy middle class. The Republican economic agenda both hurts the poor and further weakens our middle class — all to give wealthy people a windfall of cash they don’t need.
So what am I going to do with all of the tax revenue Congressional Republicans want to save me? I’m choosing to provide, as an individual, what European societies would provide collectively: housing for otherwise homeless single mothers and their kids (www.ricksteves.com/about-rick/trinity-place), helping to build senior centers (http://myedmondsnews.com/…/rick-steves-announces-2-million-…), and paying the rent of our local symphony orchestra (https://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/arts-center-donation). These are basic services — not extravagances.
While Republicans might argue that I’m proving their point — that charity from the wealthy will come to the rescue — I believe that such services should be paid for not by the odd millionaire who doesn’t have a taste for golf clubs and yachts, but collectively, through progressive taxation. While lowering my marginal tax rate from 39.6% to 37% will have no impact on my privileged standard of living, it will ultimately have a huge impact on millions of struggling people.
As a proud American and a student of Europe, I care deeply about the cost to the fabric of our society that this windfall for the wealthy will bring. If you believe you’re being represented by a Republican Congressperson who votes for this plan, you are mistaken. It costs them a lot of money to convince you to vote for them, and this tax bill is their way of paying off their major donors. And if I lived in your district, I’d raise bloody hell.
(By the way, our Christmas fundraiser for Bread for the World was a huge success this year, raising more money than ever. Thank you to the 2,376 who contributed, collectively raising $311,700. With my $250,000 match, together we raised $561,700 to empower Bread in its work — to speak up for those who don’t have private lobbyists driving our government to re-write laws in their favor.)