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We need tax code that calls for shared sacrifice

Jeff Jacoby’s column “Thanks, Obama, but wealth is not theft” (Op-ed, May 6) makes the case that class warfare is not where Americans are at. We really don’t resent the rich, and we really respect those who have done well. This is missing the point of the Buffett rule.

Tax fairness is not about class warfare; it’s about making a tax code that all Americans can get behind, and about breaking the logjam that plagues Washington.

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At the end of the Clinton administration, the federal government ran a surplus. This was followed by George W. Bush cutting taxes massively for the rich, and getting us into two unfunded wars.

We now run the huge deficits that have been so well documented. The Republicans, cheered on by folks who might agree with Jacoby, say that not one penny of tax increases is possible, even though it’s plainly obvious that the Bush tax cuts caused a great deal of the deficits we now experience.

What folks like me on the left are saying is not that we resent people who’ve been successful, but that everyone should pay their fair share. When the economy was good and the government ran a surplus in the 1990s, maybe, just maybe, the tax rates were about right.

The biggest problem is that when the right blocks any attempt to get the rich to pay their fair share, it blocks the whole rest of the conversation. Getting out of this fiscal mess is going to require everyone to sacrifice. Entitlement spending, military spending, and the entire role of government should be on the table. But there’s no national conversation as long as the right insists that not a cent of revenue can be raised from those who can most easily afford it.

Matt Osber


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