One of the clarion calls of the current state of the Republican Party is that raising taxes on the wealthy is a job killer. Not just will job growth stagnate should individual taxes on the wealthiest American be raised, but the entire economic system of America will come crumbling down around. To hear the members of the Republican Party tell it, America’s history is one which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that burdening the richest to pay their fair share-more than their fair share since so much of that that wealth is not earned through labor, but through entitlements to which they have given such names as “interest” and “capital gains.” Nice names, but don’t for a second don’t think the means by which the rich get richer are not something to which they feel entitled not only to have, but not to be taxed for having.
Anyone listening to conservative leaders in all walks of life–but especially in elected and appointed position within the Republican Party who wants to question whether this seeming economic truism does possess any basis in historical fact needs only about two or three minutes time to learn that not only is it not true that taxing the wealthiest at rates at least twice what they are now is going to destroy jobs and bringing down the economy, it’s the kind of lie that you quickly learn is accompanied by an utterly cynical disregard for the possibility that you may possess the slightest bit of intelligence whatever. In fact, the very concept that taxing the richest Americans at at the very least double the current tax rates will somehow harm the American economy verges into the territory of snake oil salesmanship.
One of the few public stands on election issues on which Mitt Romney exhibited any sort of passion during his 2012 campaign for the White House was demonstrated daily on the campaign trail through his fiercely consistently conviction and assertion that raising taxes will hurt the American economy by killing job growth and investment. The economic ideology behind this stance seems to suggest that high taxes and sustained job growth cannot co-exist.
That slap in the face to the intelligence of anyone sitting there listening to the historically inaccurate portrait of a country gone to ruin when the rich are taxed fairly at rates consistent with their unfair advantages is that during the very same speech or discussion these are also the same politicians who will point to how the liberal policies put in place since the JFK administration took over from the Eisenhower administration was the point at which America’s road to greatness and prosperity ended. The post-war boomtown that was American in the 1950s is often held up as the ideal for our economic well-being as well as our very soul. The conservative notion that America was overall a better place to live in the years between the post-WW boom and liberal agenda enforced during the 1960s. This perspective has been built upon a mosaic of unrelated yet interconnected statements, policy papers and anecdotal remarks that have sounds great and for much of the country was great and for all of the country was great precisely because what was taking place was–get ready for it–the exact opposite of what conservatives are saying about high taxes leading to the death of jobs in America.
The problem facing any conservative who asserts that higher taxes on the wealthy will destroy the American economy as well as the uninformed listener who blindly buys the snake oil without doing the fact-checking is that the economic ideology is irreversibly antagonistic with the nostalgic take on that era being America’s high point. What we have is, so to speak, is failure to communicate . Those conservative who are daily taking up with a vehemence the talking points issued by their Big Business Overlords are either going to have to drop from the discourse this idea that of making America as robust as it was in the 1950s or or they are going to have to eventually put their money where their mouth is by admitting that the road to American prosperity following the Great Depression could not have happened without tax rates on the wealthiest Americans hitting not the all-time lows they are enjoying today, but the all-time highs that even still allowed their families to become obscenely rich.History suggests with little room for equivocation that they cannot have it both ways.
The unemployment rate in America in 1952 stayed under 4%. The tax rate on the wealthiest Americans during this same period was above 90%. In the wake of the Bush tax cuts, the tax rate on those at the top fell to 35%. Unemployment skyrocketed from just over 5% on the day of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address to over 7% the day he handed over the keys to Barack Obama.
The lesson seems to be so clearly and sharply defined that even the Beav could see it: if conservatives want America to enjoy the massive job growth and economic dominance that made life so much better during the post-war glory days, then taxes on the wealthiest Americans have to more than double. America’s transformation during the post-war boom into the country that those pointing to the 1950s as her high point insist it was not only won’t be hurt by raising taxes on the wealthiest but is impossible without those tax rates. History does not just refute everything that the doomsayers of higher taxes would you believe, it makes it quite clear that economic growth is impossible without higher taxes on those who can most afford it.