wealth tax

Freeman: Build Back Better is a win-win-win proposal


President Biden’s Build Back Better program is far from the deficit generator Texas-based economist Ray Perryman incorrectly claimed in a recent guest column.

First, before Senator Manchin succeeded in hatcheting much of the proposal, the bill called for $350 billion annually over ten years, for a ten year total of $3.5 trillion. By comparison, the total U.S. military budget is over $1 trillion annually, which would mean more than $10 trillion in military spending over the same ten year period. If Mr. Perryman really were interested in reducing the deficit, he should zero in on military spending, much of which (I know from my own experience in the Army) is pure waste.

Second, there are many things that can and should be done that would more than pay for President Biden’s proposal. Dozens of the nation’s largest and most profitable corporations pay ZERO in corporate taxes. Dozens, if not over a 100, billionaires find numerous ways to sequester their incomes to ensure they are not taxed–perpetual trusts are one very popular way. Taxing corporations that now pay no taxes and eliminating the ability to hide hundreds of billions of dollars in these trusts would produce tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal revenue.

Third, Mr. Perryman continues to push the canard that higher corporate taxes and higher personal income taxes would damage the economy. If anything, the complete opposite is the case. We had a very strong economy in the 1950’s and well into the 1960’s when corporate taxes were much higher than today, and the maximum rate on “unearned income” (today called “capital gains”) was 90%. The rich stayed rich, but we had a much more fair distribution of wealth with a rising standard of living, and a growing middle class. Mr. Perryman either knows these things and is being intellectually dishonest, or he is so profoundly ignorant no one should pay any attention to any of his “analysis”.

Fifth, the U.S. government pays tens of billions of dollars a year in subsidies to corporations. The most obvious and egregious case in point is the fossil fuel industry. If Mr. Perryman sincerely were interested in combating climate change, he would be pointing out those subsidies should be ended yesterday or sooner.

Sixth, corporations also “off shore” profits from foreign investments, preventing those profits from being taxed. This also should have been ended yesterday or sooner.

Seventh, the wealth of the nation increasingly is held in fewer and fewer hands. This poses an existential threat to our economy and our nation. As has been proposed as a way to help fund Build Back Better, a wealth tax is badly needed to reduce the growing gap between the income and wealth of the super rich compared to the income and wealth (which bumps against ZERO) of the working class. We know there is a tipping point where wealth becomes so highly concentrated in the hands of a few that the economy literally will collapse. It is conceivable we are approaching that tipping point.

Eight, President Biden’s Build Back Better proposals will enable more people to enter the workforce because child care will become affordable. I commend Mr. Perryman for pointing out, as our population ages and birth rates fall, we are facing chronic labor shortages. Anything that enables more people to enter the workforce is a good thing. Those people will earn incomes and pay taxes on those incomes. Unlike the rich, they have limited means of avoiding taxes. Consequently, that increased Federal revenue will help pay for the programs enabling more people to work.

In sum, Mr. Perryman could not be more wrong. The changes in the tax code discussed above (all of which have been proposed as a means of paying for Build Back Better) will raise substantially more than the $350 billion a year Build Back Better would cost if enacted as originally proposed.

These programs will be tremendously beneficial to the people of the U.S. Our elderly citizens should have access to eye care, dental care and hearing through Medicare. This should have been done decades ago. Families should have paid leave to care for an elderly family member or to give parents time with their newborn child. The child tax credit will enable more people to enter the workforce, earn an income and pay taxes. Universal pre kindergarten and kindergarten will help improve our deteriorating education system AND enable more people to enter the workforce.

Build Back Better is a win-win-win proposal. It benefits in one way or another perhaps 90% of the population. Actually, even the top 1% or 2% can benefit by having workers to fill jobs in their corporations, and more people with more money who would be able to buy the products and services provided by the corporations that produce billionaire’s wealth. Mr. Perryman should know all of this.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by writer, researcher and educator Samuel Freeman. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Freeman (pictured above) can be reached by email via: [email protected].

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