Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan made headlines a week or so ago with his budget proposal. People in the press, as I recall, seemed impressed. They used words like, “bold” and “serious,” and praised him for making difficult decisions in order to address the nation’s spiraling budget deficit. Once people really started digging into it, though, they began to see if for what it was – a plan to extend tax cuts for the wealthy and phase out Medicare. And, now they’re beginning to ask questions. The following video was shot during a recent town hall event held by Ryan in Wisconsin. You’ll note that the man asking the question refers to himself as a conservative.
Here’s more from our friends at ThinkProgress:
During a town hall meeting in Milton, a constituent who described himself as a “lifelong conservative” asked Ryan about the effects of growing income inequality in our nation. The constituent noted that huge income disparities contributed to the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and thus wanted to know why the congressman was “fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire.”
Ryan argued against “redistribut[ing]” in this manner. After the constituent noted that “there’s nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down,” Ryan argued that “we do tax the top.” This response earned a chorus of boos from constituents:
CONSTITUENT: The middle class is disappearing right now. During this time of prosperity, the top 1 percent was taking about 10 percent of the total annual income, but yet today we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire? And we’re fighting to not raise the Social Security cap from $87,000? I think we’re wrong.
RYAN: A couple things. I don’t disagree with the premise of what you’re saying. The question is what’s the best way to do this. Is it to redistribute… (Crosstalk)
CONSTITUENT: You have to lower spending. But it’s a matter of there’s nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down.
RYAN: We do tax the top. (Audience boos). Let’s remember, most of our jobs come from successful small businesses. Two-thirds of our jobs do. You got to remember, businesses pay taxes individually. So when you raise their tax rates to 44.8 percent, which is what the president is proposing, I would just fundamentally disagree. That is going to hurt job creation.
I’m glad to see that people across America are finally waking up to what’s happening. This is an encouraging sign. I just hope it’s not too late.
Oh, speaking of taxes on the rich, I know that we’ve talked about it here many times in the past, but the evidence would show, despite what Ryan and the Republicans would have us believe, that our economy grows faster when the wealth of our nation isn’t concentrated in the hands of the few. Coming out of World War II, the top marginal tax rate was 94%, and it stayed in that general range until 1964, when it fell to 77%. Today, it’s less than half that, and the boom that we were promised hasn’t come. Here, for those of you who are interested, is a chart showing the top marginal tax rate over time.