Jewish World Review Oct. 13, 2004 / 28 Tishrei, 5765

Robert Robb

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And what tax rate should Americans making over $200,000 a year pay? Some pre-debate advice for the President | President Bush and his campaign are playing rope-a-dope on one of the most important domestic issues of this election: What tax rate should Americans making over $200,000 a year pay?

When Kerry criticizes Bush for cutting the taxes of the relatively affluent, Bush basically dodges. He cites the middle-class tax cuts that were also part of his plan and the effect increasing top-bracket personal income tax rates will have on small business. He makes generalized comments about lower taxes being good for the economy.

But he never directly discusses the issue of tax cuts for those making over $200,000 a year.

This isn't fair to the voters. This is one of the biggest issues dividing the two candidates. Voters deserve a straightforward justification from Bush.

And it can't be good politics. If only Kerry is participating in this part of the debate, it's pretty easy for him to win it.

Here's what President Bush should say about this issue:

Here's why I think the tax rates in my plan for Americans making over $200,000 a year are fair and good for the economy.

The first thing you need to know is that, under my plan, upper-income Americans are hardly getting off scot-free.

Those making over $312,000 pay a 35 percent marginal tax rate. Those making between $200,000 and $312,000 pay a 33 percent marginal tax rate.

That means that, under my plan, the federal government takes at least a third of every additional dollar these families make. I think that's enough.

My opponent wants to raise that to as high as 40 percent. I think that's too much.

It's also important to know that, in my plan, everyone who pays income taxes got a reduction. The less you make, the greater relief you got as a percentage of what you owed.

In fact, some on the right, like that crank conservative columnist at the Arizona Republic, complained that my tax relief plan made the federal income tax more progressive.

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My opponent says that those making more than $200,000 a year should have been left out of tax relief because they don't "need" the money.

Now, the assumption behind that is that all the money belongs to the government, which doles it back out based on "need."

I don't think that's the way it ought to work in America. I think people have a right to keep what they earn.

The government needs to justify taking money away from people. The people don't need to justify keeping it.

My opponent also says that upper-income Americans should have been excluded from tax relief because they might not spend all of what they got to keep.

So, what will they do with the money they don't spend? They'll save and invest it.

Now, consumer spending is an important part of our economy. But so are saving and investing.

Investment capital is important, particularly to keeping an economy going during a recovery.

My opponent's policies are downright hostile to capital investment.

Take the taxation of dividend income, or corporate profits that are distributed to investors. My plan set a maximum rate of 15 percent on it. My opponent would raise that to almost 40 percent.

It's important to know that, before dividends reach individual investors, they have already been taxed as profits at the corporate level at a 35 percent rate.

My opponent needs to explain how the economy is helped by the federal government taking, combined, more than 60 percent of the profits our successful companies share with their investors. Because that's what he proposes.

Frankly, my opponent is practicing the politics of resentment. He wants you to resent Americans making over $200,000 a year, and resent me for giving them some tax relief.

I don't believe you build an economy on resentment.

I believe that all Americans should share in tax relief.

I believe that taking a third of every additional dollar someone makes is enough.

And I believe that saving and investing are important to the future of our economy.

That gives you a rather clear difference, and a clear choice, about leading this nation and growing this economy.

JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.


09/24/04: Too many of the wrong people have too much ability to influence public opinion too quickly?
09/20/04: Kerry asks good question about security costs
09/07/04: Right city, right message
08/30/04: Bush's key task: His reinvention as a true uniter
08/20/04: Bush's burdening the Middle Class
08/13/04: For prez to win, he must change his campaigning style
08/03/04: Missing in Beantown was a sense of the art of the possible
07/26/04: Kerry inflated agenda reveals he's failed to truly make the transition from legislator to presidential candidate
07/12/04: Edwards punctuates Kerry fantasies
07/06/04: Kerry ups the ante in bid for Latino vote
06/30/04: High Court gave administration limits
06/25/04: Parallel (political) universes
06/21/04: Al-Qaida-Iraq interaction strengthens case for war
06/02/04: Gas whiners don't believe in or trust markets
05/10/04: Border reforms fail on black-market issue
05/07/04: It wasn't Bush's recession nor Bush's recovery
04/28/04: Arizona to become test market on immigration as a political issue
04/23/04: Accusations that the Bush administration has been shredding civil liberties are hyperbolic
04/16/04: Learning the limits
04/14/04: Aug. 6 memo is not even a water pistol, much less a smoking gun
04/11/04: Once 9/11 Commission's political theater ends, we must debate real security issues
04/09/04: Fact checking Kerry's federal budget plans
04/08/04: Should the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq be delayed beyond the current deadline?
04/02/04: Kerry's tax epiphany makes some cents
03/31/04: What could have prevented 9/11
03/26/04: Knock off the high-stakes blame game
03/23/04: McCain a ‘straight talker’? Who is he kidding?
03/17/04: Bin Laden makes distinctions?
03/12/04: In the dangerous neighborhoods, cause for hope, if not yet optimism
03/01/04: Greenspan view scary, but Dems in denial

02/27/04: How not to achieve a mandate

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