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Editorial: Asking the rich to pay more is best option

5:14 PM, Nov. 16, 2012  |  Comments
In this cartoon by Roger Harvell, 'the rich' chickens in a cage at the White House press room say 'I don't think we're here for a pardon' when they see an ax nearby. (Gannett, Roger Harvell/The Greenville (S.C.) News)
In this cartoon by Roger Harvell, 'the rich' chickens in a cage at the White House press room say 'I don't think we're here for a pardon' when they see an ax nearby. (Gannett, Roger Harvell/The Greenville (S.C.) News)
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Here we are again, back at square one.

As our lawmakers and the president hurriedly try to strike a deal that avoids triggering the so-called fiscal cliff, they're making the same arguments they've been making for years.

President Barack Obama is taking a hard stance that he wants $1.6 billion in taxes raised on the wealthy and corporations to help improve the nation's financial crisis. Republicans, of course, are against the idea.

The problem is that the GOP's reasoning for avoiding a tax hike on the wealthy is flawed. If the Bush-era tax cuts expire for individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000, there won't be mass layoffs and job creation shouldn't be stifled.

Letting the tax cuts expire for those in higher income brackets is a relative painless way to raise revenue. And we can't avoid the fiscal cliff with spending cuts alone.

So, for the good of the country as a whole, Republicans must agree to extending the cuts to everyone except for the wealthy.

Their argument is that if the rich have to pay more in taxes, they'll be less inclined to hire. That doesn't stand up because consumer demand determines how many workers a CEO will hire, not what his tax return says.

A November report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that jobs will still be gained in the long term even if the wealthy have to pay more.

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker column explained the report well: "Extending all tax cuts would boost employment by 1.8 million jobs (with a range of 500,000 to 3.1 million) in the fourth quarter of 2013. But extending only the tax cuts for people making under $250,000 would boost employment by 1.6 million (with range of 500,000 to 2.8 million)."

And most Americans side with the president.

In a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, 47 percent of respondents wanted the tax breaks to expire for the wealthy. Nearly 60 percent of respondents to a Pew Research Center poll said the rich don't pay enough in taxes. In a CNN/ORC International survey, 72 percent supported the so-called "Buffet Rule," which would require people earning $1 million a year or more to pay at least 30 percent in taxes.

With Jan. 1 as a deadline, the time for coming up with new ideas has passed. With very few options out there, asking the wealthy to pay more is one of the best.

We can't keep spinning our wheels.

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