Read My Lips: There WILL BE TAXES

I originally wrote and published this in February, shortly after Sen. McCain won the GOP nomination. Given that the debate is heating up now on these issues, it seems like a good time to bring it back to the top for more discussion.

McCain and the GOP are already tossing around the “L” word with regularity, claiming that if Obama is elected, he will push through the biggest l-b—l tax increase on record.

Here’s a really simple picture of our economy and our options and a reality check for anyone deluding themselves:

  1. We are engaged in a war of our choosing which has cost over one TRILLION dollars and increased the national debt to record levels.
  2. Our social investments in schools, health initiatives, and infrastructure have been nil, because of the focus and obsession with the war in Iraq.
  3. When the war ends, we will be faced with returning veterans returning to the work force, some with incredibly complex mental and physical health issues. Some of those issues, like PTSD, are not even acknowledged by the VA or the Bush Administration at this time but threaten to become major problems as the war ends and troops return. We have already seen untreated PTSD at its worst — see examples here (free, login required), and here. The PTSD Timeline Project has been tracking reported incidents of suicide and homicide amongst returning veterans, and a startling report in October shows that veterans seeking treatment for PTSD has jumped by 70% in one year.
  4. Social programs notwithstanding, the war debt alone will require a tax increase. As all of us know, you don’t borrow money without paying it back.

Every time I hear John McCain or a Republican say that only the Democrats will raise taxes, it makes me laugh. When George Bush stole took office, he walked into a fiscally sound country with a budget surplus, not a deficit. Today, we’re deeper in debt than we’ve ever been, not just as a country but on an individual basis, too. The subprime mortgage crisis is a clear indicator of the inevitable consequences of predatory lending gone mad.

Higher taxes are inevitable. It’s really a question of who will bear the brunt of those taxes. Will it be the middle class folks and small employers, or will it be more fairly apportioned? What about the large corporations that have profited much from their war contracts (a la Halliburton) while moving their operations out of the country so that Americans don’t even benefit from employment opportunities by those companies?

Or put another way, would you rather have a President Obama ask us to dig deep for a finite period of time to pay off this ridiculous debt, or have President McCain sneak those increased taxes on you by way of “user fees” and “revenue neutral” legislation? Note: “Revenue neutrality” is nothing more than giving to the rich by robbing the poor and middle class. Things like cutting programs for the poor, or cutting back what you can put into your 401(k) or your IRA, which typically benefit the middle class the most, while leaving the tax cuts for the rich in place.

If my President asked me to sacrifice $600 extra dollars for two years to make a dent in the war debt, I’d do it right now, especially if it meant that veterans would get some decent health care and we could put our resources back into our country. But what I’ve gotten with the Republicans is an ‘economic stimulus’ tax refund which they expected me to spend but which I didn’t spend because as a self-employed individual, my tax burden has increased while my income stream has decreased over the past seven years. That first refund went back to the IRS as a deposit on the following year’s tax bill, as will the one they give me this year.

I’d much rather accept a tax increase for a finite period of time which would pay the war debt down and give us a way to bolster much-needed social and educational services, wouldn’t you?

Whatever your opinion, accept as fact that you will have to pay higher taxes to take care of Bush’s folly in Iraq. That’s just how it works.

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