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September 20th, 2011
05:27 AM ET

Talk Back: Is a higher tax on millionaires class warfare?


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From CNN's Carol Costello:

President Obama released his long-awaited debt reduction plan Monday, outlining a roughly $3 trillion saving blueprint that includes $1.5 trillion in new revenue generated largely by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Top congressional Republicans immediately criticized the proposal as class warfare, arguing that Obama was wielding his "bully pulpit" to pit the rich against the poor.

In a speech to the nation, the president dismissed these accusations, arguing that taxing millionaires more is not class warfare - it's math.

"I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or teacher is class warfare," Obama said. "It's just the right thing to do."

Talk Back: Is a higher tax on millionaires class warfare?

Let us know what you think. Your answer may be read on this morning's broadcast.

Filed under: AM Talk Back
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Dianna S

    No It is not Class Warfare! Why do the Republicans give so much power to Grover Glenn Norquist by signing this NO Tax pledge? What kind of leader or controlling power force can he be especially since he has the country wrapped around his finger and is making a large amount of money for doing it and without any effort. He sure has the republicans fooled.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  2. Albert Binder

    The idiom "the pot calling the kettle black" best describes the Republican response when others try to use the same tactics that they have no problem using. Such is the case when President Obama tries to tax the rich, but it is OK to take money and rights away from the poorer. Only the rich are unified. The rest of us are broken up into smaller groups so that we can't agree on anything, therefore, it is really not class warfare because only one class exists: the rich. what we have is not warfare but just a rich class controlling the poorer with a Robin Hood President trying to win back a little for the people.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  3. Mr. Dick Turpin

    I think the key point here is that the middle-class "feel" the crunch of taxes much more than the wealthy. Taxing $40K and $40M at the same rate will indeed result in the wealthy paying a LOT more taxes. However, after taxes the $40K earner will have much less net income to work with (for paying bills, debt, mortgage, etc.) than the $40M earner.

    From the perspective of the $40K earner, a gross income of $40M doesn't seem all that different from, say, a gross income of $20M. In either case, that's LOTS of money, so much more (apparently) than any middle class person would ever know what to do with. Therefore, why not tax the wealthy at 50% or even higher? They don't really NEED that money (apparently).

    Of course, it might help if the wealthy explained to the middle/lower classes why, from the perspective of the wealthy, there's a huge difference between $50M and $20M. But the wealthy (except maybe for Warren Buffet) typically keep a very low profile in the media. As a result, there's a fundamental disconnect between the rich and poor, with the latter disliking the former, and the former distrusting the latter. The Democrats and Republicans don't help matters.

    Mr. Dick Turpin

    September 20, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • bev

      Agree with you. In talking only about percentages, you are leaving out the fact that a person making $3 million a year,
      even if they pay 50% still has $1.5 million to live on. That's seems quite sufficient to people in the middle class who have Phd's and work just as hard at their jobs, some that add more value to society then the hedge funders who reality TV stars who make the bigger bucks and maybe have to live on $100k.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Christopher

    Class warfare was when bush decided the upper class should pay less than everyone else. Who was yelling class warfare against the rest of us back then.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  5. bev

    The " warfare" should be on the huge discrepencies in salaries for hedge funders, TV reality stars and those who work hard and add value. When are we going to stop rewarding the Snookies and Kardashians of the world instead of
    rewarding scientists and educators who add real value to society.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  6. Patt Reid

    IMHO, wealthy paying a lesser percent in taxes than their employees is class warfare. Corporations and wealthy individuals who pay little or no tax are waging war on the poor, demanding that the poor support their wealth. It's sad when nearly 49% of our country are so poor that they owe no tax. That alone is evidence of the class war against the workers by the elite. The Bush tax cuts were intended to expire, it's past time for them to expire so we can get back on even ground.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  7. Chuck

    Economic recovery is dependent on two things. 1) fiscal and taxation policies that promote private sector jobs. These are the only kind of jobs that will be permanent. 2) home values coming back up to return equity to the everyday Joe.
    Taxing the ultra wealthy might work, but they have to leave the middle class alone and give job creators confidence that policies are not going to keep shifting. One minute Obama is talking about Couples earning 250k and now it's 1M. Pretty big difference. What about capital gains, and what about overall tax rates. Business owners (like me) need to know how all of this is going to end up and we need to feel confident that the economy going forward will be strong. We need this so that we can make educated hiring decisions. Right now I could hire an additional employee, but because of uncertainty, I'm hesistsnt. Instead me and my employees are doing more with less, because it is safer. Obama is lying. He does not even ave the ability to create jobs. We do. He can create a "shovel ready" job that will end after the project is complete, but business owners like me can create a high tech, high-paying job that will be permanent.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  8. Troy Clark

    I'm sure this has been mentioned before. It would not be class warfare unless, of course, its happening to you. That is, if the middle class is paying 28% taxes and millionaires are paying less than that, and you're the millionaire, then yes, you'll think it's class warfare. To the rest of the sensible & conscious citizens who value the good of the country (rather than those who are interested in "whatever it takes to make sure that as many people are beneath me as possible"), its honest and just. If one person is taxed at one rate, regardless of how much or how little he/she makes, then another, no matter how much or how little they make, should be taxes the same.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  9. Alton

    No it is not. The rich should pay their fair share. In times of war, our country must unite to achieve victory. So must we unite again and evenly share the financial burden of getting our economy going again.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  10. Brian

    If welfare programs like food stamp, medicaid, etc is kept being abused then yes it is a class warfare and not fare to people who work hard and pay taxes.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  11. Vance

    Class Warfare? Assumes the Tea Party-Republcans have "class" as do their political candidates? "Warfare" assumes that the Democrats, lower and middle class are inherently violent if not policed, held in check by the Trickle Down economics, Bush Tax cuts, Tea Part cuts agenda. Wasn't Martin Luther King a Democrat?? Stretch as in stretch limo's and hype is what the term really is–and Hoover said, chicken in every pot as we have to raise chickens to survive and family cars in the garage if not repossessed, no insurance, no gas, no JOBS mean we simply have to get by??

    September 20, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  12. Dan

    After years of people wealthy enough to hire lobbiests, tax attornies and tax accountants, plus the ability to pad the pockets of friendly politicians, the balance of wealth in America has gotten out of whack. It's about time to put it back in whack. I think it innacurate to call it "class warfare', and more accurate to call it "fair". The situation is not unlike a bully who finally gets his comeuppance, then goes home crying about being punched.

    Stewartstown, PA

    September 20, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  13. Steph

    I crunched the numbers my self. Comparing the Federal effective tax rate, SS, and Medicare for three groups. 1 person making $255,000; 5 people making 51,000 = 255,000; and 12 people making $21,250=$255,000. Here is what I found. The lowest 50% pay 50% of what the one person making $255,000. And the 5 in the middle pay the most. So it is manufactured class warfare. Because the lowest class also pay a higher percentage of income on sales type taxes and end up paying a higher percentage of ALL taxes over all. Go ahead crunch the numbers... I have the spread sheet to verify my numbers. Don't forget the $106,000 cut off for the highest income, and that only 4% of all tax payers take advantage of the earned income credit.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  14. David Freemen

    Not class warfare, it's equal justice under the law.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  15. Dianna S

    No this is not class warfare! The tax that is under so much discussion was suppose to be TEMPORAY so it's time is up and the needs of our country come first. Shame on those Republicans who have this view and accept pressure from those that contribute to their campagins and who also signed the tax pledge.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  16. Louisa

    Republicans wake up, pure greed. I am not voting for another republican until they wake up and see what they are doing to the aveage amaerican. They have had a brake for over 12 yrs, where are the jobs , you keep saying the tax breaks will help when you know that is not true. Us seniors here in Centerline, Mich are so disappointed that you guys keep saying the same supid stuff. The congerss & senitors should get a decrease in pay unitl the ecomony picks back up. What do you say about that you Republicans?? Pay your fare share. You people don't have the guts or the back bone to do it. You just want us seniors to keep paying your rages.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  17. paul

    The republicans along with corporations have been playing "Class Warfare" for the last 30 years as money has flowed towards the wealthy and away from the middle class. Wages have stagnated for everyone other than wall street and washington. It is in large part the reason things are as they are now. It is past time to level the tax burden in America . It is about time to dismiss the myth that the wealthy and the corporations are "Job creators". They are not! They are profit making entities that produce profit via the exploitation of workers. The claim that the president is engaging in class warfare is ridiculous and false.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  18. Lyons

    When running a business, 1 million isn't that hard to earn. The majority of that money goes back into the business. Calling this "class warfare" may not be accurate. If those creating jobs have less money, where is the incentive to higher new employees or even keep the ones you have? It's more warfare against the entire American populace.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  19. MeLoN

    Of course it is class warfare when that dumbass known as Barry Obama wants to raise taxes of the "rich" while allowing the 45% that don't pay any tax to continue freeloading of those that work because that is his base – the ghetto dwelling welfare collecting non-tax paying Democratic leeches.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:27 am |
  20. eric

    Hell yeah.why are these rich republicans so defensive when it comes to this.yes they are the ones who has america,s economy stagnant with there constant stonewalling and objection.america plz vote them out of office asap,we will soon have a Z downgrade if they continue this nonsense.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  21. Gary Cox

    Raising the tax rate for investors to the same level as the tax rate for workers will END class warfare not start it.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  22. Haythem

    well money has to come from somewhere! it's either from the rich or the rest of the population. so it's your choice people! which one it's gonna be?

    September 20, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  23. Muslim

    There is a solution that shall, inn shaa Allah, help to stimulate the economy from the street level.

    Those who have been paying mortgages and loans and have already paid an amount that suffices the principle requirements must no more be liable to pay the debt. This helps to increase the amount in the pockets of the consumer and thus increases customer demand for merchandise.

    You do not solve problems with employment from the Government level, the Government handing money around or imposing taxes upon the rich. Companies hire because there is customer demand and in order that there be demand there must be money in the pockets of the consumer. What diminishes customer demand for merchandise like debt? The customer cannot spend to refurbish a living room because they have to pay the bank.

    Money from taxation goes into the coffers of the Government and the Government becomes the employer of the labor force. This serves to make the population dependent upon the Government for work.

    Employment is a grass-roots problem that can best be solved by the consumer having money in the pocket to spend. How can the consumer have money in the pocket to spend when he is paying interest to the bank?

    September 20, 2011 at 5:57 am |