Oh, return us to the halcyon days when savvy presidents and thrifty Congress kept the tax rate at 90 percent for undeserving millionaires. Yet those higher earners paid much less of the income tax than they do currently. Now, 5 percent of top earners pay 60 percent of the total income tax; they paid about a third in the good ol’ days.
See, in the ’50s and ’60s almost everybody who worked paid some income tax. Now just under half pay none. Only 15 percent of households relied on government transfer payments then. Forty percent do now. Oh yes, there were also a couple of undeclared wars under Truman, Kennedy and Johnson, too, not to mention the Great Society.
High tax rates also drove U.S. heavy industry offshore, thus contributing to the loss of family-wage jobs and thinning of the middle class during the era. Lower tax rates under Presidents Kennedy and Reagan improved economic conditions, but spenders regained footholds to lead us where we are today: in hock to any country silly enough to buy our debt.
If we must walk down memory lane, let us at least keep both feet on the ground.
Michael D. Sullivan