Wednesday, November 28, 2012

America Needs the 47% to come out of the Shadows and Do the Right Thing‏

What about that Pesty 47%?  A FUTURE WITHOUT YAWNS

Think about it – a future of active engagement in the public policy process, with all Americans participating.  This is a future of true compassion for our neediest neighbors, and most importantly the end of the era of the YAWN.  The road to this de Tocquevillian future is long and bumpy.  We need go no further than the secret and illegal Mother Jones video tape (last September) of candidate Romney at a private Florida Fundraiser saying: “…there are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement…(t)hese are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.

This tape more than any ad or event during the 2012 election sunk Mitt Romney – and now that the dust has settled, much of the problem was Mitt Romney’s own doing.  Every candidate should assume that someone is recording their every word, so what was Mr. Romney thinking?  The only part of this quote that was true was the last phrase, yes, 47% of Americans pay no income tax.  This by itself is an outrageous fact and no one paid any credence to it because Mr. Romney called nearly ½ of the country dead beats, his statement became a political flashbang.  The result was predictable condemnation by the media and disorientation by the electorate.  Team Obama made the most of the confusion yet the fact still remains that 47% of our country pays no income tax.

Given the tax and spending dilemma we find ourselves in now at the end of 2012, it is finally time to put the appropriate spot light on this 47% who pay no income tax.  A quick review of the IRS figures from 2008 is illuminating.  The top 1% paid more than 38% of the federal personal income tax for the nation.  The top 5% paid more than 58% of the federal income tax.  The top 10% paid 70%.  And what of the bottom 47%?  Again, they paid nothing.  In short, nearly ½ of the people of the United States paid no federal income tax at all.  This situation needs to be addressed. 

Nearly 52 years ago President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to resist the self-indulgent wining that was in it’s infancy in the nation.

On that freezing Friday morning, January 20, 1961 he proclaimed: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."   

Either this proclamation was just another platitude destined for the trash heap of political rhetoric or it was a national call to arms lived by the young president himself – a man who sought front-line duty in the pacific theater during World War II and suffered dearly from his experiences.  From General Washington leading his men across the Delaware River to rout the Hessians at Trenton in 1776, to the first responders entering the towers of the World Trade Pavilion on September 11, 2001, Americans have always carried their fair share.  Paying nothing is not fair, it is shameful.

In 1961, a laborer might have stopped into the neighborhood pub on his way home on a Friday to enjoy a couple of hard earned beers.  While the hops filtered through his taste buds and into his nostrils, he would have looked at his hands – hands swollen from a full day of manual labor in the cold.  This working man, most likely a Democrat, would have thought of his wife and children, and felt a strong smile coming over his face, a smile of pride and belonging to the national fabric of the USA.  He and Kennedy were both Americans, both fought the Axis powers in WWII and equally proud of there ties to their nation.

No one is asking the poor or the working poor to empty their bank accounts today but rather to pay something to the national income tax coffers.  With a US population of  nearly 315 million and 245 million potential taxpayers that equates to more than 115 million Americans who currently do not pay federal income taxes.  If each were to pay $1,000 per year on average the total would be at least $115 Billion per year or in nine years over $1 Trillion.  Some of the 47% could pay as little as $70 in Federal Income Taxes while other members of this group might pay closer to $2,000.  The point is that this 47% would belong to the national fabric of America rather than being a spectator and the derivative effect, and the more important effect would be more taxpayers actively concerned with the growth of government – this would have an immediate effect on slowing the growth of government helping to rein in our national debt rather than today’s ethos where income taxes going up causes a collective yawn from half of the country.  The days of yawn would be over.

The members of Congress need to understand that the true way out of this fiscal mess is to increase the number of Americans with a direct stake in our fiscal health.  Rather than just increasing the tax rate on the 53%, start by having the 47% pay something.  TOTAL WORDS: 895

Geoffrey G. Fisher is a federally designated highly-qualified state-certified history teacher working in southwest Florida as a guest teacher.  He holds a BA in History from the University of Connecticut and a MA in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.  In addition to teaching he is a former elected official and speechwriter.  Mr. Fisher now writes the political blog: THE THINKING CAP at:  

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