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Joan Wile

Joan Wile is the Founder of Grandmothers Against the War and the author of "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)

September 23rd, 2010 6:02 PM

Gray Panthers Urge an End to Tax Cuts for the Rich

The Panthers are dedicated to creating a humane society where the needs of people are put over profit.

As the tax-cut debate rages through the Senate, the House, and among the prospective candidates for public office, the Gray Panthers are firmly committed to their stance that tax cuts for the wealthy must end.

Bucking the Tea Party and Right Winger presidential wannabes Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and other advocates for the super rich at the expense of all the rest of us, the Panthers have issued a proclamation outlining their proposals regarding tax cuts. Among their many resolutions is one demanding that the progressive taxation system practiced in many other developed democratic countries be adopted here.

Progressive taxation, as I'm sure my well-informed readers know, is a tax system in which those who earn higher incomes pay a higher percentage of their income than those with lower incomes. A graduated tax is one example. Seems very logical, doesn't it? If such were the case, then the current system of granting tax cuts to those earning $250,000 or more annually would be obviated.

Susan Murany, Executive Director of the National Gray Panthers, wants to know, “We do have to ask ourselves -- as Americans -- is it fair that the rich continue to benefit from our financial policies while the people who are poor, the working poor and the middle class continue to suffer? Because as most of us continue to experience the recession, the number of millionaires continues to increase. The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." Murany says, “It’s no surprise that over 60 percent of all income growth since 1979 has gone to the top 10 percent.”

According to this information, it would certainly seem that eliminating their tax cuts would hurt the pocketbooks of the rich a lot less than eliminating cuts for ordinary folks, doesn't it?

In addition to recommending a progressive taxation policy, the Panthers offer a number of other suggestions to reform the tax system. Among them, they advise the elimination of tax loopholes which support consumption and accumulation of wealth by corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of ordinary wage earners. They also call for laws and policies which hold corporations accountable for delivering social benefits (living wage jobs, pollution controls, environmental protection, workplace safety and more) to states and localities which compete for corporate investments in their jurisdictions.

The Panthers further state that they oppose war, and believe it would be less likely if it were not funded with debt but with current taxes, and therefore counsel Congress to enact a separate, dedicated and progressive tax sufficient to cover the costs of war in Afghanistan and each and every future war.

The Gray Panthers are tired of such statements as that of, for example, Newt Gingrich, "I think to raise taxes on people who create jobs in the middle of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate is, frankly, crazy." Inasmuch as more and more corporations are transplanting jobs to low-wage workers in other countries, that comment seems a bit disingenuous. Our history has shown more than once that expanded wealth at the top does not trickle down into the pockets of the less fortunate. Such pronouncements are simply not true and it is sort of mind-boggling to imagine that ordinary people would swallow them.

The Gray Panthers have committed themselves to working for social and economic justice and as such, see the extension of tax cuts for the rich as a justice issue. The well-to-do have been getting richer for decades. They now have the responsibility like all of us to contribute their fair share for the benefit of all.

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