Thoughts on tax reform

This past Friday, Governor Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax returns to the public. Also revealed were his average tax rates for the past 20 years.

But why did Romney disclose this information? He did it in response to Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who have pressured Romney to reveal his tax returns for numerous reasons—such as the allegations that he held offshore assets or took advantage of tax loopholes. Finally, through the tax returns, Democrats wished to portray Romney as someone that took advantage of our taxation system by paying lower tax rates than middle-class Americans.

In my view, this request by Democrats was inappropriate and political. It was an invasion into Romney’s private finances. It was just another way for Democrats to convey Romney as a wealthy elitist that exploits working-class Americans and fails to relate to them.

However, the more important discussion this tax-return releases is the debate on tax reform in America. What should our tax code be for people like Romney, Obama, or the wealthy Hinsdalean? Should we cut taxes or raise taxes on the top 1 percent of Americans?

Romney’s answer to these questions has always been the hard-line Republican answer: tax cuts. Romney has said throughout his campaign that during the first day of his Presidency, he will cut taxes for all Americans.

Unfortunately, tax cuts are not the answer.As the Treasury Department reported on Sept. 4, our national debt has topped $16 trillion, leaving our government in desperate need of income. Furthermore, with government support of programs like Social Security, Medicaid that serve as a social safety net for the American people, we need money from those who can afford these services.

President Obama’s tax reform plan provides the government with the revenue to get us out of debt, while sustaining the programs we need to protect lower-class Americans from economic collapse. His policy centers on promoting the American middle class by providing it with tax cuts and a social-safety net. On the other hand, his philosophy known as “the Buffet Rule” calls for a higher tax rate on upper-income Americans.

Opponents criticize this plan as one that promotes class warfare. But in times of economic downturn, the middle-class is hit the hardest, and therefore, providing the middle class with lower taxes and a social safety net is necessary. On the flip side, upper-income Americans are hit less, and they can afford to pay a higher rate so that lower-class Americans have more opportunity in times of recession. It’s simply common sense. Those that earn less, pay less. Those that earn more, pay more.