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Letters to the editor published in the October 12, 2011, edition of The Explorer.

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Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 3:00 am

Middle class is disappearing before our eyes

This Republican view (“How ‘Shared Sacrifice’ impacts Arizonans,” Sept. 28, 2011) is more of a quick backward glance with blinders on that completely ignores the Bush landscape that President Obama inherited, a landscape that included two off-budget wars, a massive ongoing tax cut primarily benefiting the rich, an unpaid Medicare drug benefit, huge unemployment numbers, and a deregulated economy that lead to a crash on Wall Street and to massive bank failures.

Only FDR in modern times had received a country in worse shape. Every effort that Obama has made to improve the lot of the middle class has been opposed by Republican obstructionism. The GOP has even turned against its own policies when the President has proposed them.

As to shared sacrifice, Obama is basically asking for a very small tax increase on the wealthiest, a return to pre-Bush era taxes. The rich are doing unbelievably well. The top 10 percent now controls two-thirds of America’s wealth. CEOs earn up to 400 times what their employees make, and multinational corporation profits have never been higher. Meanwhile, millions of Americans do not make enough to pay federal income taxes but they still pay plenty in other taxes – sales, gas, utility and federal payroll taxes.

Indeed, the bottom 90 percent of wage earners pay most of the Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes. The middle class is literally disappearing before our eyes.

Now is the time for the rich to pay their fair share. Now is the time for shared sacrifice.

Doug Sanders, SaddleBrooke

 


Brinkley’s numbers are used wrong

Mr. (Richard) Brinkley repeats an often-quoted “fact” about how much tax revenue comes from which part of our society (“How ‘shared sacrifice’ impacts Arizonans,” Sept. 28, 2011). Although it is probably true, it is a very disingenuous use of numbers.

He says, “The top 50 percent of tax filers pay 97 percent of all federal income taxes.” Assuming he means the 50 percent of the population who earns more than the other half, then I am not really surprised. They pay more income tax because they make so much more in earnings.

I decided to do a spreadsheet simulation on income taxes. I laid out 100 income earners. The first made $1,000, the next $2,000, the next $3,000 and so on. The highest wage earner made $100,000. Everybody pays 20 percent in taxes.

The bottom 50 earners (50 percent of all income filers) make a bit more than $12 million and pay roughly $2.5 million in taxes. The top 50 make $37.75 million and pay a little less than $9.5 million. Put in terms of percentages, the top 50 percent account for 78 percent of the tax income.

Now this example is unrealistic in a number of ways. The increase in earnings in America from the poorest to the richest does not increase in a small fixed way as it does in my example.

If earnings did increase in real life as in my example, then the top wage earner in the lower half of the population would make half as much as the top wage earner. And we know that isn’t so.

Changing this part of my simulation would quickly push the percentages closer to those quoted in the article.

Roger Schuelke, Oro Valley

 

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