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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Budget cuts hurt poor, ignore rich”

Last week it was announced that General Electric, a company that made $14.2 billion in profit last year, was able to take advantage of tax loopholes so that it paid no taxes this year. In fact, it received $3.2 billion in tax returns. So this begs the question, why is our economic recovery being done on the backs of the poor, while wealthy individuals and corporations seem to be getting all the breaks? Why are tax increases for the wealthy and closing tax loopholes not on the table?

In its budget, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to cut $61 billion of federal spending. Among the things being cut are funding for Planned Parenthood, NPR, Head Start, educational programs, health care programs for seniors and environmental regulation of greenhouse gasses.

In the end, these cuts only make a tiny dent in the overall budget deficit but have a profound impact on the people that benefit from these programs. For example, Head Start, a program started by the Johnson administration to provide early childhood education for low-income children, will see a 22.4 percent reduction in funding. According to Kathleen McCartney of CNN, this will cause 218,000 children to be dropped from the program and 55,000 workers to lose their jobs. In addition, Planned Parenthood, which would see all its federal funding eliminated, which helps to provide vital family-planning services and care for women. If these programs were to be cut, many people on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder would be hurt.

However, at the same time, Republicans are refusing to eliminate billions of dollars worth of subsidies for oil companies. It’s safe to say that oil companies would do just fine without federal money. After all, Americans will still be driving their cars.  

Most importantly, Republicans are refusing to address the loopholes in the tax code that allow for a company like GE to get away with paying no corporate taxes. Conservatives love to mention that the corporate tax rate (35 percent) stifles growth, but there are very few companies, if any, that pay anywhere near the full rate. How about lowering the tax rate and eliminating loopholes?

This isn’t just about the corporate tax rate; Congress should look to eliminate loopholes for individuals as well. Due to the progressive tax system, the wealthy pay more in taxes than the middle and lower classes, but, with loopholes, some of the wealthy pay very little taxes at all. The amount of money a person pays in taxes should not be decided by how knowledgeable they are of the tax code or how skilled their accountant is.  

Leaders in the government are calling for all Americans to make sacrifices, but it seems as if they only mean the middle and lower classes. The fact is that the richest 1 percent of Americans make nearly 24 percent of all income in this country. With that figure, it’s clearly not too much to ask for the super-rich to pay a little bit more on taxes.

Of course, Republicans would never go along with that, claiming that such a plan would be class warfare. However, this couldn’t be more incorrect, as it’s simply asking them to pay their fair share.  

If the Republicans get their way and programs like Planned Parenthood and Head Start are cut, it is the poor that will be hurt the most. Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of the financially insecure, Republican leaders should instead look to the wealthy first, not out of punishment, but because they would be least affected.

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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