–By Jake Terpstra
IN a recent town meeting, as well as in letters of Representative Amash, he said that our national debt is his major concern. He did not clarify how it should be reduced, though it seemed that reducing spending is needed — without specifying what should be cut. The problem isn’t necessarily cuts or the debt, although Mr. Amash probably has different ideas than I do on ways to reduce spending. It’s our regressive tax structure that costs the middle class more and the upper 1% less.
Republicans need a history lesson
The cost of Depression and World War Two spending created a debt that was proportionally nearly as large as what we have today. At the time, the debt caused by both the Depression and the war was paid for fully in six years. The difference is that we then had a progressive tax structure that required the largest and wealthiest taxpayers to pay their fair share — in some cases, 90% of their income.
Since then our tax system has changed. Now we have a regressive tax system whereby the lowest earners pay a higher percentage of their income – up to 39.9% of their income – while the wealthiest only pay 10% of their income in taxes. Essentially, the top few earners in our society, and the ones who should be paying more taxes than those in the middle or working classes.
Here’s another history lesson
President Eisenhower — a Republican — wanted us to have a highway system similar to the autobahn in Germany. He accomplished it with no increase to the national debt but with a progressive tax that still existed at the time.
Reagan campaigned with reducing the national debt as one of his goals. When he came into office the debt was about $900 billion. When he left it was over $3 trillion. Republicans are masters of making Democrats out to be the “big spenders” but when Democratic President Bill Clinton left office we had a surplus.
Though often concealed by political rhetoric, the causes and effect of the national debt are clear enough. As we creep toward the debt ceiling once again, congress will be faced with extending that ceiling or arguing about until the government shuts down. I would encourage Republicans rethink our tax system and the way we spend and borrow. The viability of future generations of Americans depends on it.