Today I paid my taxes. (I’m old fashioned — I still believe in that.)
I like that through our government we fund highways, law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, parks, the arts, care for the elderly, the poor, programs for kids — see Head Start, heating oil for the poor, veterans benefits, school lunches and breakfasts for poor kids, the military — especially snipers that kill pirates, Social Security, student loans, farm loans, home loans, entities which regulate drugs, food, financial services, banks, insurance — we need more of that, not less, scientific research, housing for the homeless and poor, among other things.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.”
As I pressed submit on my Turbotax return this morning, wondering if I filled out the forms correctly, I also had to shake my head at the astroturf “Tea Parties” organized to coincide with the Federal tax filing deadline today — what’s up with their “throw the baby out with the bathwater” approach to government? Yes, there is waste in government, but is it all bad?
To me, the irony is palpable.
To listen to the organizers explain their efforts, you would believe that it’s only been since January 20 that that there has been overspending and excessive taxation by the Federal and state government. Where were these protests during the last 8 yrs when President George W. Bush and the Republican controlled Congress obliterated the budget surpluses that President Bill Clinton left them when he left the Oval Office in January of 2001? Why weren’t they cheering President Clinton when he cut the number of people on the Federal payroll and jeering President Bush when he reversed that trend? Why aren’t they cheering President Obama for cutting the effective tax rate for the 98% of us who earn less than $250,000 a year? What planet do they live on?
There is a just a deep-seated denial among Republicans that President Bush had any role or responsibility for the current economic situation. It’s as if the markets tanked on Inauguration Day. I call it “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” approach.
This comes at a time where polls indicate that the public is placing less emphasis on the tax issue, one that historically has been a GOP calling card.
Today I found two blog posts which sum up the significance of this astroturf effort and explain why our current taxation system benefits the public and our society. I recommend them both to you.
From MSNBC’s First Read:
But let’s be clear about one thing: These tea parties are hardly non-partisan events. While there’s certainly a grassroots component here, these parties have been co-opted by a major America political party (the RNC’s Web site allows for creating send-a-tea-bag post cards to Dem leaders) and an entire cable news channel (which has been promoting the events). The main Web site for the events today, Tax Day Tea Party, is funded by conservative groups, and a public records search shows it’s registered to a conservative techie, Allen B. Fuller, who used to be a legislative correspondent for GOP Sen. Richard Shelby and who touts creating Web sites for Republican elected officials. Also reportedly involved in today’s protest events are FreedomWorks, a conservative group founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Americans for Prosperity.
From the blog “Government is Good“:
Are taxes bad? If you’ve been listening to conservatives for the last several decades, you would certainly think so. Virtually every Republican candidate for office in recent memory has run on an anti-tax platform — arguing that Americans are overtaxed, that taxes hurt economic growth, etc. And it is this hatred of taxes that drove the hundreds of billions of dollars of tax cuts passed during the administration of George W. Bush.
In short, under President Obama’s leadership, the Democrats are starting to call the bluff of the anti-tax, anti-government “No Nothing” Republicans. Voters are realizing that the wealthiest among us aren’t paying their fair share and they don’t buy the GOP’s counter-argument that the economy will grow with more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. (With the exception those creatures squirming in the underbelly of the tattered Republican Party, President Bush and the GOP Congress apparently have discredited that approach to government in the eyes of most.)
That’s not to mean that President Obama and the Democrats shouldn’t be careful with this issue. I believe President Obama gets that — see his plans to put all TARP spending on-line — but I am less confident in the leadership of the Democratic Congress.
But for today, I happily pay my fair share of taxes. On the whole, I believe I get my money’s worth.