Seven years after writing Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes, with Bill Gates Sr, I feel like I'm part of the same stuck tax debate. Will raising taxes on the wealthy hurt the economy–or restore fairness to a broken system? Is it a form of punishing success or recycling economic opportunity from those who've benefited from the system?
It remains a "man bites dog" story when those who would pay higher taxes support the tax increases. In a recent article I wrote for the Huffington Post, I lift up some of the voices of business leaders and higher income individuals who support allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire at the end of 2010. They are inspiring because they have an "alma mater" view toward the society that made their wealth possible similar to my co-author Bill Gates Sr.
The network I co-founded, Wealth for the Common Good, recently launched a public petition to amplify the voices of business leaders who encourage Congress to let their tax cut expire. Thousands have signed, including over 300 who earn over $250,000 and would pay the higher taxes. "It's a no brainer" wrote one signer. "Paying taxes at Clinton era rates is only fair given our deficits and unmet needs."
I'll be out on the Boston Common today when Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express pass through Boston. Many people's anger toward the tax system is justified after decades of taxes on the wealthy and global corporations being cut. Our new report, Shifting Responsibility: How 50 Years of Tax Cuts Benefited the Wealthiest Americans, documents this shift.
It's important to keep the conversation going, as hard and polarized as it is sometimes. At the core, it's really about what kind of society we want to live in.