Tax structure: Mislabeling class warfare

Daniel Perret-Goluboff

As is often the case considering initial response to change, criticism surfaced rapidly in response to President Obama’s proposition for a new tax plan.

This much could have been anticipated based solely on the fact that few people find tax infrastructure to be exciting, yet the manner through which the critiques were posed seems to resonate more with petty name calling than with true constructive feedback.

Barack Obama’s recent proposed tax plan would set a new minimum taxation rate for individuals whose annual income exceeds $1 million. The goal of this new minimum rate is to ensure that the affluent pay a percentage of their earnings similar to that paid by the average middle-class citizen. This proposed change saw widespread criticism — primarily at the hands of the G.O.P. — and frequently was labeled as “class warfare” by its opposition.

One of the great benefits of writing for The Lawrentian is that I know that my audience will be widely varied in their personal beliefs. That said, I make this statement after acknowledging the risk of offending some: I firmly believe that labeling this proposed change as “class warfare” is nothing short of wildly immature.

In my eyes, “class warfare” is a term that — when used this way — could be classified as propaganda. Whether or not the tentative tax structure change benefits you, it is foolish to describe it as some sort of bullying put on by the Obama administration to undercut the upper crust of high-society Americans.

This new tax rate is an attempt at leveling the economic playing field in America. The current system allows for little class mobility and has proven to us that those falling on hard times will fall harder and the rich will remain prosperous.

Money is relatively finite, and obtaining great amounts of it comes with a certain degree of responsibility. It must be acknowledged that those earning more should be paying at least the same percentage as those earning less if we intend to advance the socioeconomic state of the American public in any way.

This newest proposal, deemed the “Buffet Rule” in reference to billionaire Warren E. Buffet, would attempt to correct the fact that currently investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than standard wage earnings. It doesn’t take a highly informed person to understand that the average millionaire is far more likely to have made his fortune in the former manner.

Criticism has come widely from those who believe that their investment gains should remain taxed at the same lower rate. That said, wouldn’t it be fair to refer to the current system as equally class oriented in that those working more menial jobs are taxed at a higher rate?

Perhaps what is most alarming about the widespread criticism of this new plan is that it often fails to mention the fact that this is a compromise instead of a one-sided solution. The heightened tax rate for millionaires has been proposed by Obama in exchange for the Democratic Party supporting future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.