Recently, when the news was plastered with talk of the looming deadline for the U.S. national debt, many financial pundits thought that the fiscal apocalypse was approaching.
At the last moment, however, Congress passed a bill that allowed them and the president to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, while cutting only a little more than $900 billion immediately out of the national budget. Along with this came a 12-person, bipartisan, congressional “super committee,” whose responsibility is to reduce the deficit by another $1.5 trillion.
However, all these cuts will hardly put a dent in our national debt (more than $14 trillion) unless the cuts work jointly with increases in government revenue. Yet many members of the Republican Party refused to vote for a bill with any increased tax revenue. Rather, they chose to play the game of partisan politics, gambling with the U.S. economy.
One person who spoke out about his refusal to compromise is Warren Buffett, the wealthy investor and businessman who recently wrote an editorial in The New York Times outlining a plan to increase tax revenues for only the wealthiest Americans. He states that tax rates should rise for households earning more than $1 million in taxable income and an even greater increase in rates should be applied for households earning more than $10 million.
I respect Buffett for taking this stand, especially when middle and lower class families continue to struggle to pay off home mortgages, college costs and everyday living expenses.
Buffett is not the only affluent individual who is calling for greater taxes on the rich. Just this week, 16 of France’s wealthiest individuals were signatories on a petition for higher tax rates for the wealthy in France. These small yet significant acts display teamwork – something the U.S. government hasn’t seen in a while.
Members of Congress should look to these individuals for guidance in these fiscally difficult times. The wealthy are willing to pay more taxes, which could be put toward research grants, better federal college funding and subsidies, and improved national infrastructure.
America is broke and we have to learn to live within our means. Many of the wealthiest people in America are willing to help us get there, but Congress first needs to take a step in the right direction by realizing increased tax rates will not destroy American society.
Paul Ryan is a freshman majoring in economics and history.