Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Republicans: Can we agree to raise taxes enough to pay back the money spent on the wars?

Asked by JLeslie (47251 points ) April 16th, 2012

Iraq and Afghanistan, including the increase in VA medical needs and whatever long term benefits families get for injured or killed soldiers.

If you say no, why not? Why do you think it is ok to spend and not pay the bill?

Also, any increases we have made to fund homeland security post 9/11.

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87 Answers

bkcunningham's avatar

How much would we have to raise and how would we raise taxes, @JLeslie?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham I think we have to get the option on the table in the first place before we talk about ways and means. Given that the “no new taxes” slogan is a recurring plank in the Republican platform, I take it that this question is asking whether or not any of the Republicans here think that it is even in principle okay to raise taxes for this purpose.

GladysMensch's avatar

Of course, as long as taxes aren’t raised on the rich.

mazingerz88's avatar

I would applaud the first sensible answer from a Republican. I hope at least one comes along.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@GladysMensch I can’t tell – are you being snarky, or serious?

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think Obama could have gotten his Buffet Plan passed if he had allowed some of the Republican cuts to be attached to the bill.

But both parties seem to want to use the debt as a campaign weapon against the other, so nothing will get done.

filmfann's avatar

The Republicans are happy with the existing plan to have our grandchildren pay for it, which is one reason they want to rescind the Estate Tax.
They can’t pay it if they don’t get the billions grandpa made off the war.

ETpro's avatar

@GladysMensch To put the debate in perspective, just not raising taxes on the rich won’t do. The Ryan budget proposes another massive round of deep tax cuts for the wealthy, while actually raising taxes on the working poor. It would reduce revenues to the point where we would have to eliminate virtually all discretionary and entitlement spending in the next 10 years. The Federal government would be cut to Defense and that’s about it. No R&D. No regulatory agencies.

In that stark contrast of visions, the only way we will ever address the debt problem is to vote Republicans out of office.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I saw an estimate for total cost of the wars at 4 trillion. I don’t know if it is accurate. Let’s say it is, can we raise the taxes for let’s say five years to pay it? It can be a percentage across the board probably. Well, we leave the poor out. I’m going to say 2% higher taxes for everyone making $75k and up. I’m making stuff up, but will you go for it?

In fact, you can tell me how you want it paid for in tax money, how you want it divided up among various income levels. I’m just mostly curious if republicans will agree to pay that part of the debt, that part of our spending.

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann FYI: now the tax exemption on an estate is up to $5million, up from $1million. If you ask 100 republicans randomly, I bet they will tell you when someone dies all their money is taxed. Democrats too would get it wrong. Same as most people think if you are in the 32% tax bracket people think your entire adjusted gross income is taxed at 32%.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie I think we need to look at revenue AND spending for the foreseeable future. We have over $15 trillion in national debt to retire. Paying for the unfunded wars is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to pay for 30 years of tax cuts given to the rich while spending was increased. We need to pay for ramping up our military till we outspent the entire rest of the world combined. We need to pay for 30 years of raiding the Social Security trust fund to give “freebies” to voters.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro But, that is not this question. And, in my opinion everything counts. I care about every penny in my pocket, and every penny I owe, even if it is just a penny. Over time that penny owed becomes 3. I also think anywhere we all can agree to make a dent in the deficit counts whether it is $500k or $4 trillion. For now, let’s stick to the main question at hand, because I am very curious what Republicans, who for the most part I believe supported going to war, are going to answer. I don’t see how anyone agrees with Bush cutting taxes when he was spending more. Republicans also seem to say quite often we are condemning our grandchildren to paying our debts. I want to know if they feel ok not paying the war bill themselves. Or, if they have a completely different view of the whole thing than I do.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Given their pledge to NEVER raise any tax, and their firm commitment to give HUGE additional tax breaks to billionaires, and pay for them by slashing investments in the future and care for those who are suffering; I think you’re dreaming. Your hope is as fruitless as that of Neville Chamberlain thinking Hitler could be appeased. It’s pointless to negotiate with those who want everything for themselves and their kind. That’s my take. I’ll shut up and watch.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro Well, I figure let’s give some individual republicans a chance.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I don’t think it will happen after what happened to Bush 41. He made a deal with the Democrat controlled Senate and Congress to allow a tax increase if they would cut some spending.

They voted in the tax increase then voted down most of the spending cuts. Clinton then used the tax increase to defeat Bush in 1992.

Unless the tax increases are tied to spending cuts they will not get much play from Republicans. The official Republican position is not no new taxes under any circumstances, it is no new taxes without spending cuts.

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat I’m not really asking about Obama, the election, or any deals. Just wondering if individual republican jellies agree we should pay for the wars.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you want to successfully cut the debt, you cannot seperate one part of the debt from the others. Nor can you only implement half of the solution. Whether that debt is from the war or health care, it all comes out of the same pockets.

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat I am asking about getting rid of that part of the debt. It is more of a phylosophical question. Are people willing to pay for the committment America made to the war? Republicans who want to get rid of social security, they would look at that as deducting the debt a certain amount, why can’t I ask about the war amount? If you have to make it part of a deal to consider it, fine, let’s. Bush cut taxes when we went to war, we have supposedly raised taxes with Obamacare and Tarp. Let’s get rid of Obamacare and all the TARP paid back. Now will you pay for the expense of the war? The debt was rising before Obamacare and the TARPs. Let’s go back to 2006, will you raise taxes back up for that debt? If we could go back in time?

If I have mortgage debt, three credit cards in debt, and owe money on my car, do I get to tell Visa, “well my husband bought a car I did not want, and I need to drive places, so I can’t pay Visa. I won’t talk about my credit cards because I should not owe money for that expensive car I didn’t approve of.” Everything needs to be paid. Paying anything off will help. Getting rid of some debts will help, there I agree, but some still need to be paid. Which debts do we feel are fair and necessary, probably we have to pay what we owe on the war, I don’t think we can avoid our debtors on that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

The lack of direct answers so far is telling…

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire I just said the same thing in a PM to someone.

JLeslie's avatar

I just noticed a typo, I said Obama has raised taxes with obamacare and and Tarp. I should have written he raised the debt.

tom_g's avatar

Just to clarify: TARP = Bush, not Obama. But this is still irrelevent to your question, which doesn’t seem to be getting any legit responses.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g True. Bush really gave away the money with almost no strings, and Obama adjusted that to have some strings, require reporting by companies that took the money. Under Obama loans were made the way I remember it though, and I think the package he helped create and pass had quite a bit of earmarks that would probably piss me off. I kind of used TARP to encompass the two major packages passed, one under Bush and one under Obama during that crisis time, but technically TARP was under Bush. In both cases some of the money has been paid back already. Many of the banks on the initial give away, and auto manufacturer Chrysler, which was a loan under Obama, etc. Doesn’t matter who did what, I am trying to narrow down just asking about the wars, which I know you understand by what you wrote.

bkcunningham's avatar

Okay, @JLeslie. I go for your 2 percent increase on those making over $75,000 for five years. Are the debts you are concerned about now gone?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I am having trouble figuring out how much is actually paid in each year total in taxes. Here is the info from the IRS, I need someone to help me with it. No matter what the 2% helps.

On another Q it was agreed that each taxpayer needs to pay about $40k to pay off the debt. The debt is $14trillion now I think? So if we go with the $4trillion number for wars, that is a little less than ⅓ of the total debt. A little less than ⅓ of $40k is about $13k. I’m rounding and estimating in my head. I said over 5 years, so an average of $2,500 a year per taxable person per year, but it is done on a percentage so for some it will be a few hundred I would think, others several thousand.

bkcunningham's avatar

The debt per “taxpayer,” @JLeslie, is $138,147.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham That link doesn’t work for me. No numbers are filled in.

bkcunningham's avatar

Google US debt clock.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Your link takes me to the clock, but on my ipad there are no numbers filled in.

I’ll still take any money I can get to pay the debt.

Edit: Your number is triple, so triple my numbers.

bkcunningham's avatar

Okay then, you have to trust me I’m telling you the correct figure of debt per taxpayer.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Sorry, I edited while you were writing. I will trust you, see my edit.

GladysMensch's avatar

@Aethelflaed and @ETpro – Of course I’m being snarky.

bkcunningham's avatar

The US national debt is $15.665 trillion.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Ok, still the numbers are rounded anyway. I think the Bush taxes averaged to be about 8% reduction in each tax bracket. Something like 10 to 30 percent reduction in each bracket. We were paying it ok during Clinton. I realize the economy had a downturn during the end of Clinton’s presidency, but the Bush tax cut was very big. I just want a compromise, it does not have to be back to the Clinton rates. Everything counts. Not having to print more money counts. Paying down the debt in any way will count. Debt costs money. The interest adds up. A house mortgage can be $130k to pay off, but easily cost $250k over time, depending on the inerest rate.

I would need to really sit down with pen and paper to estimate the costs, but assuming your numbers are correct, and I am assuming that, we have an idea anyway of what it would be. I would be curious to see how much it is for me personally each year, again I need to actually study all the info and do the math.

You said you were willing to pay the 2%, I’ll take that as a positive sign.

JLeslie's avatar

We can spread it over 10 years if you want? We have been at war about that amount of time.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Wait, are you talking about 2% more in the amount of dollars you actually pay in, or 2% higher in your bracket? I just realize what I wrote about the Bush tax cuts is confusing and we might be miscommunicating. I meant originally raise the tax brackets from 20% to 22% for instance.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ll go along with any plan you propose, @JLeslie, for the sake of discussion. I’d just like for you to show me that it pays down the debt. I’m horrible with math and accounting. So bear with me, please, when you cipher it for me.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Fair enough, I don’t mind any questions about the numbers I am using. And, I am assuming the money will go straight to the cost of funding the wars, no raiding by the government and spending additional money in a way not agreed on. If you are ok with working on that premise? I don’t want to muddy the discussion with mistrust of the government and examples in the past of that sort of thing. I too worry about it, but don’t want to consider it for the sake of this discussion.

bkcunningham's avatar

I agree to your above points in regards to the discussion. You are talking about the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan. Since we are still involved in these two areas, what is the cut-off point (timewise or monetarily) on figuring the debt you want to payoff?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Let’s take a broad brush view and see if the numbers makes sense.
Let’s round just to get ballpark figures. Our GNP $15 Trillion. Our annual budget is $4 Trillion.
That means we need 4/15 = 26% tax rate to fund what we have – assuming no loop holes and a flat tax.
Now let’s relate that to a house hold with an income of $100,000 per year and expenses of $26,000 per year or ~2000/ month. Ok I can see that.
Now, how big is the debt? $15T Same as our GNP. That is like having a $100,000 mortgage.
That is also doable. You budget for it and spend a little less on other things.
Let’s see what it will cost to pay off the debt in 10 years with 3% interest. That will take 12% of GNP per year. So our flat tax rate is now 26% + 12% or 38%
Let’s see if we can do better. The war is 1.2 T. Cancel that and you pick up about 500B or 3.3% per year reduced tax rate. Not bad.
Anyone who says they can reduce taxes and maintain services is blowing smoke.
We need to bite the bullet and get it done. Like responsible people would do with their own finances.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy You say the annual budget is $4 trillion. Does that mean that is the annual mortgage payment in your scenerio?

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t know if you’ve seen this before, @JLeslie or @LuckyGuy, but it is very insightful. Please, give it a try and tell me what you think.

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/budget-hero

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham It requires flash player. I can’t see it on my ipad. If I turn on my laptop later I will look at it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie The $4T annual budget includes our mortgage payment. (So in our family example the $2000 per month is for utilities, taxes, mortgage.) If we want to pay off the loan faster we need to bump up our payment as mentioned above.

@bkcunningham I will go there now.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@bkcunningham That site is great. It really is simple math! I will poke around a bit later.
I wonder if they ignore random factors that pop up in the real world, like: wars, natural disasters, terrorist acts. I guess that is why the government should have a cushion in the bank- for emergencies. It’s just like we are supposed to have enough funds to cover 6 months of expenses. That is responsible government.

In my world simulation here’s what I will do to save.
1) Mandatory abortion if you already have one child and you paid no taxes the previous year.
2) Flat tax of 10% for all income over $20,000 and below 200,000.
3) Flat tax of 20% for all income above $200,000
4) Federal property tax of 0.5% for all properties with a fair market value above $1M.
5) Welfare and disability is temporary. If on welfare you must take education course and maintain health to keep receiving payment.
6) Minimum wage is only permitted for employees who have worked less than 2 months. If they do not perform they may be fired. If they perform their pay must jump to 1.333x minimum wage. At one year it must jump to 1.5x minimum.
7) For large corporations CEO total compensation may be no more than 100x the lowest pay grade employees.

We probably won’t hear any candidate or political party touting these as their platform.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy And, do you know…right now are we collecting $4T from the taxpayers? Or, do we fall short?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m sure we can look it up, but I am guessing we fall short by about 0.5 T. That is why the deficit keeps growing. Cut 500B and we stay even. Don’t trust my numbers. (But I’ll bet I am not too far off.)

bkcunningham's avatar

Federal spending is $3.579 trillion. US federal tax revenue is $2.256 trillion. The US federal budget deficit is $1.323 trillion.

I took these figures from the US Debt Clock.org. I never know with these discussions if what you are asking is something different than what I’m looking at. Like GDP and GNP. I understand what the difference between the two are, but at first, the GNP threw me for a minute.

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie, I haven’t looked at the numbers, but you said the wars cost $4 trillion. That money was spent over 10 years more or less. So it stands to reason that you’re asking to raise taxes by $4 trillion… would you be amenable to raising 4 trillion over ten years?

Just to get some idea, the Buffet rule (raising millionaire+ tax rate to 30%) would supposedly raise anywhere from $30–50 billion per year in additional revenue. Over ten years, that’s still only a tenth of the costs of the wars.

On the other hand, repealing the Bush tax cuts (including those for middle and lower class) would, by some calculations, net $4 trillion over 10 years. So really, if Congress does nothing, those tax cuts get automatically repealed next year and we’re good to go. :)

Speaking as a dyed in the wool liberal, I would actually oppose a sudden increase in taxes right now—especially increasing taxes on non-rich. Our economy is still in terrible shape; tax increases (especially nonwealthy) are contractionary. That’s why I asked about the time scale. I’d have no problem raising taxes on everyone once unenmployment gets down to 5%. I’d also raise taxes more on high-income earners to make up for the extra time in delaying increases for lower ones.

ETpro's avatar

@Qingu I’d say that right now, the odds of Congress doing nothing are nearly 100%.

Qingu's avatar

I know. It’s weird that everyone seems resigned to the idea that the Bush tax cuts will be extended indefinitely. They seem to have a lot of misplaced faith in the ability of 60 Senators voting on something in a split Congress.

Though Obama has made it pretty clear that he does want to extend the tax cuts for lower and middle class, at least temporarily. So I dunno.

ETpro's avatar

@Qingu Truth told, with the size of the deficit and debt, we should let all the Bush tax cuts expire and make up the loss for the middle class with spending. But with this congress, the likelihood of that happening is exactly 0.00%.

JLeslie's avatar

I think they should let them all expire too, or at least meet halfway in the middle at all the tax brackets from present day to before Bush, possibly leaving the very lowest bracket as it is now. The people really suffering are those out of work, and they aren’t paying taxes.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Exactly. The rest of us can make do, even if it requires some belt tightening.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I think @Qingu and others argue tightening our belts, meaning us middle class people, will further slow the economy, less spending, and not help unemployed people get employed, but I can’t speak for him, that is just how I interpreted something he said here or on another Q.

It would not change my spending to pay a few percentage points more in taxes, but I am towards the top of the middle class I guess. Definitely not above that $250k mark that is thrown around.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie That’s why I said make up the difference with government spending. We need an interstate highway system to keep our economy viable. But we have vast numbers of bridges and highways that are in so serious disrepair that they threaten our national security. We also have millions of skilled construction workers laid idle by the financial crisis in the real estate market. Why not keep the economy humming by putting those available workers to work fixing something we have to fix, and something that will pay benefits for decades to come?

bkcunningham's avatar

Wasn’t that part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

Qingu's avatar

“Tightening belts” during high employment is bad. Our recession is marked by a demand shortage excaberated by a huge private debt overhang. People already aren’t spending any money because they’re (1) unemployed, (2) paying off their debts, or (3) hoarding. This demand shortage means businesses have no incentive to hire people. Which makes unemployment worse.

We’re basically treading water at this point. Something needs to stimulate demand. Raising taxes would stifle demand—to some extent. That extent varies considerably on the income involved. Rich people, for example, spend relatively little of their income and (despite their constant bitching) likely wouldn’t even notice tax increases, so I think it’s safe to raise their taxes. Middle class and working class people spend much more of their take-home income, so if we raise their taxes, that cuts into demand. That’s why I prefer a gradual phase-in of tax increases alongside a lowering of unemployment.

Of course, I also totally agree with @ETpro.

@bkcunningham yes. Those funds have now run out and thanks to Republicans have no chance of getting renewed.

bkcunningham's avatar

Of course it is the fault of the Repubs, @Qingu. It is a hollow echo in here.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, so who are these Republicans in Congress that support increasing infrastructure spending?

bkcunningham's avatar

Boehner, Graham and McConnell to name three leaders on a long list of others. This is where our disconnect comes in on questions, @Qingu. I assumed you knew about the multiply controversies regarding both Dems and Repubs regarding the most recent Keystone pipeline and the various other transportation infrastructions proposals going all the way back to Obama’s proposal in 2010 that Reid stopped in its tracks.

I’m saying it is both parties fault. I get so tired of the comments by lockstep Dems who blame everything happening in this country on Bush and republicans. It gets old really fast trying to have a discussion with someone who resorts to childish insults at me asking if I’ve read comments or throwing in the typical Fox News comments. Very disheartening.

Qingu's avatar

You can’t be so dense not to know that Keystone is not public infrastructure spending.

bkcunningham's avatar

Do you know about the Republicans and HR 7 and HR 3548? The pipeline is part of the Republicans transportation and infrastructure plan.

Qingu's avatar

The money to build the pipeline does not come from the federal government. It’s a private pipeline.

We are talking about public infrastructure projects that would be funded by the government. Look at @ETpro‘s comment before your first one.

bkcunningham's avatar

Okay, another disconnect between us. The issue of infrastructure funding and your question to me about the what Republicans support infrastructure spending was asked and answered. The Keystone pipeline is tied into proposed infrastructure spending. Forget it, @Qingu. It is like talking to a wall.

Qingu's avatar

It’s not tied into proposed infrastructure spending. The government is not spending money to construct the pipeline.

This isn’t that hard.

Unless you are talking about the government having to spend money to fund environmental tests alongside the pipeline’s construction. I’m assuming not, though, because the Republicans weren’t a fan of that type of spending, which is why we are not building the pipeline right now.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, do you understand that the government is not building the pipeline? The government is not paying for it?

Do you understand that the Republicans wanted to cut the environmental review process that was supposed to happen before the pipeline was built—that this is what the link you cited is talking about?

bkcunningham's avatar

I do realize the govenment is not building the pipeline. I was referring to the ongoing debates and controversies from both dems and repubs regarding the infrastructure spending, @Qingu. See above. The pipeline of the recent pieces of legislation that has been connected to the discussions.

Now back to the original question please.

Qingu's avatar

It’s not “infrastructure spending” if there is no “spending” by the government. This is a red herring and you know it.

Back to the original discussion: now that we’ve established the Keystone isn’t an example of infrastructure spending, can you name any Republican proposals that are?

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham To win enough Republicans abstentions from a filibuster to clear the Senate, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was almost 50% tax cuts and tax incentives for business. Further, at the time the act was proposed, numbers for the depth of GDP decrease were preliminary. When final numbers because available, it turned out the economy shrank almost 5 times as much as originally predicted. So the stimulus was woefully inadequate. It helped a good deal. We see that in the turnaround from losing 800,000 jobs a month at the end of the Bush Presidency to 26 months now of private sector job growth. But we need more, and if the middle-class tax cuts expire, we will need a lot more.

bkcunningham's avatar

To address your first point, that almost 50 percent of the tax cuts and tax incentives were for busineses. It isn’t true, @ETPro.

Tax benefits – $297.8 billion = 0.7 percent manufacturing and economic recovery, infrastructure refinancing, other; 1 percent COBRA; 4 percent energy incentives; 13 percent tax incentives for business; making work pay 34 percent, 47 percent other individual credits.

Contracts, grants, loans – $227 billion
Entitlements – 221.1 billion

http://www.recovery.gov/News/featured/Pages/TaxReliefDec2010.aspx

Qingu's avatar

Rounds up to 50%. It’s more than a third. In any case I think ETPro’s general point is worth repeating, that the hated “stimulus” bill contained a huge amount of tax cuts.

bkcunningham's avatar

Since you dispute the government, how much did it amount to, @Qingu? In real numbers.

Qingu's avatar

Huh? I don’t dispute the numbers you cited.

bkcunningham's avatar

What is the amount, is the question, @Qingu. Can you answer in real figures?

Qingu's avatar

I don’t understand what you are asking. I said I don’t dispute the figures that you posted.

bkcunningham's avatar

The question I’m asking you is: What is the dollar amount of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding went to tax cuts and tax incentives for businesses?

Qingu's avatar

What you said. $297.8 billion.

Like I said, that’s more than a third of the bill’s funds.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Qingu, the total amount is not tax incentives and tax cuts for businesses. Look at the information. http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/fundingoverview/Pages/fundingbreakdown.aspx

Qingu's avatar

Total amount of what?

Yes, not all the tax cuts in ARRA went to businesses. I don’t believe anyone claimed they did?

It sure would help if you would just come out and say whatever point you think you’re trying to make.

Judi's avatar

I’ve just witnessed a miriacle.

ETpro's avatar

I didn’t bother to look it up anc calculate it, @bkcunningham. I was just speaking in rough numbers. But to be precise, 39.9% of the stimulus was tax cuts.

Republicans maintain that ONLY tax cuts produce jobs. Without tax cuts government cannot possibly produce jobs. Even GOPers who work for the government and have all their lives parrot that government has never created a single job. Then they claim the stimulus did not create a single job, even though almost 40% of it was tax cuts. They claim that after attending ribbon cutting ceremonies and boasting of the jobs “They” created in their district through this or that part of the stimulus. You have to be one gullible sucka to believe ALL of that.

Ron_C's avatar

@WestRiverrat “Republican position is not no new taxes under any circumstances, it is no new taxes without spending cuts” Do you really believe that? The only circumstance where the Republicans would allow any tax increase if if Social Security was privatized. I expect they would be willing to tax the profits individuals made

It would be a “two fer” their banking friends make billions or even trillions in new profits and they can use the money extracted from citizens to reduce the debt. It would almost make them look responsible.

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