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Letter: Tax Cuts for Wealthiest: Not Right and Not Smart

Right now in D.C., our representatives are trying to find a solution to keep us from going over the fiscal cliff. But too many congressmen are attempting to hold the negotiations hostage, insisting everyone’s taxes go up unless President Obama and the Senate agree to extend tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent.

I'm among that wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, so I have skin in the game, so to speak. Yet I strongly oppose prolonging the special tax breaks for the wealthiest. We need such breaks the least, as we have been the largest beneficiaries of the tax cuts over the past 10 years. Moreover, our income has grown while the average American's has not, so we need to start paying our fair share. Not since the early 20th century has our country experienced a wage gap between the best-paid Americans and average wage earners as large as the one that exists today.

I am willing to pay my fair share to support the country that has given me so much and provided opportunities for me to succeed. It's only fair to expect that I will chip in to make sure that others have the same opportunities I have had. The Bush tax cuts that only go to the richest 2 percent give an average tax break of nearly $150,000 to each household that makes more than $1 million a year. We've been getting this extra break for a decade.

Ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would save nearly $750 billion over the next 10 years—money desperately needed to put fiscal house in order. Bankrupting the government by providing endless tax cuts for the wealthiest is not right and is not smart. It will lead to the regression in economic growth we are seeing in Europe, and will only fuel conservative cries to cut social safety net programs while the rich enjoy continued expansion of their income and wealth as has been true over the last ten years. Business owners like me know that restoring taxes to Clinton-era rates on the portion of our profits above $250,000 in household income would have no effect on our decisions about whether to hire additional workers.

Our country faces a choice. It can ask the wealthiest 2 percent to accept tax rates closer to what other Americans pay so we can shrink the deficit while protecting middle-class priorities such as education and Medicare from deep cutbacks. Or we can slash investments vital to our nation's future in order to be even more generous to those of us who need tax breaks the least. That shouldn't be a hard choice.

Joel Kanter

McLean