The Universal Notebook: Read my lips: Raise taxes

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Can you believe that the Maine Legislature is seriously considering cutting the state’s top income tax rate from 7.95 percent to 4 percent, a move that could cause a loss of $500 million in revenue on top of the $400 million in revenue lost to earlier tax cuts?

You’d think the state was running a surplus rather than a deficit.

Come on, Augusta, stop being such cheapskates and start paying the bills.

In these unfortunate, reactionary times, when every Republican candidate is forced to take the “No New Taxes” pledge and the Republican answer to every problem known to man (and woman and child) is cutting taxes, it cannot be said often enough that the only way out of the economic hole the GOP has dug for this country with its lack of fiscal restraint, deficit spending, needless wars, and tax breaks for the corporate rich is a combination of cutting spending and raising revenues.

That means raising taxes one way or another.

Who needs to pay more taxes? We all do. Conservatives will beat you soundly about the head with the statistic that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes, implying that the working poor, disabled and elderly are somehow to blame for the financial mess they made.

You’ll also hear the forces of greed and selfishness defend the wealthy by pointing out that the top 1 percent of earners pay 38 percent of all federal income taxes, and the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of income taxes. Isn’t that enough?

No, it’s not. Warren Buffet has been trying to tell Congress just that, pointing out that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than he is, but no one in Washington seems interested that 1,500 millionaires and billionaires in this country pay no taxes at all.

The top income tax rate in this country right now is 35 percent. Sound like a lot? Well, it’s not. It was between 88 percent and 94 percent back during and right after World War II. Why? Because the United States had to pay for the war.

Since WWII, the top tax rate has fallen from 91 percent in the 1950s and 1960s to 70 percent in the 1970s, 50 percent in the 1980s and down into the high 30s since then. America has been fighting World War III on credit for a decade now, but Republicans refuse to even raise the rate from 35 percent back to 38.6 percent in order to help pay our war bills. Talk about unpatriotic.

So, no, the wealthy are not paying their fair share. Nor are corporations that profit wildly and pay no taxes. And the corporate rich get away with stiffing America both because they are protected by Republicans in Congress and because they have been able to brainwash weak-minded lower-middle-class Americans into believing that all taxation is theft and any government action taken to promote the common welfare is socialism.

I heard one of these jerkies spouting off in the drug store the day. Obama was a Marxist and a socialist, the poor fool was telling anyone who would listen. All politicians are liars and thieves. That’s why he doesn’t vote. Then this clod picks up his prescription, 100 percent paid for by Medicare, and grumbles out into the street. A perfect job of brainwashing.

It is sheer and utter hypocrisy to complain about the deficit and then refuse to raise taxes to pay it down. Like a lot of people, I am disappointed in President Obama for not standing up to the Republican-led Congress, for not ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for not proposing a bold jobs program such as the Works Progress Administration, and for buying into the sick idea that rolling back environmental regulations will somehow stimulate the economy.

Yes, Obama has been a weak president, but it is the “Just Say No” obstructionist Republicans in Washington and Augusta who are destroying this country.

Raise taxes on everyone. Pay the damn bills.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.