There's one phrase that best reflects President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the financially wealthy at his third State of the Union: common sense.
In an October op-ed, billionaire Warren Buffett admitted that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. This does not make common sense, and Obama's economic policies should resonate with the millions of viewers who are seeking a solution to the nation’s debt and unemployment crisis. While it is understandable and reasonable for Americans to be disappointed with Obama’s failure to jumpstart the weak economy, his SOTU address should inspire voters to reelect him for another term in 2012.
Obama began his speech with a painful reminder of the four million jobs that were lost last year, but immediately highlighted that in the past 22 months, businesses have created more than three billion jobs in the U.S. Today, the country has as many jobs as it did in 2005. The auto industry was on the verge of collapse when Obama entered office, but his policies have rescued the administration and created 160,000 jobs. This represents significant progress.
Obama proposed new rules to hold Wall Street accountable so this crisis cannot be repeated. He wanted to fight the policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. This means no more bailouts for big banks and financial institutions that make risky bets. He wants to investigate unfair trading practices in countries like China.
Obama also emphasized that he wants to bring American jobs back home. He stressed that it is time to stop rewarding employers that do business overseas. It doesn’t make sense that businesses that outsource jobs get tax reductions. He proposed that those American companies that do business or operate in other countries should pay a basic tax rate, and American manufacturers should receive bigger tax cuts in return.
One of the most well-received lines of the night was: “Our workers are the most productive on earth and if the playing field is level, I assure you America will always win.” The uneven playing field includes increasing tuition in colleges and universities, doubling interest rates on student loans, unequal pay for women in the workforce, tax hikes on recovering Americans, and most importantly, subsidizing millionaires.
Obama assured that if tuition does continue to rise, learning institutions will be taxed accordingly. He urged the passing of the payroll tax cut without anymore delay. The key point he made about tax breaks for the wealthy was that they added to the deficit and the people paying the difference would be the fragile middle class.
Obama's policies make common sense, and can once again help America to win.
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