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My Turn
Other Views from Those in the Know
Alan Williams
State Representative
Congress Needs to Raise Taxes on Top 2 Percent

 During this holiday season, Americans will get together with their families, friends and neighbors to celebrate many things. And while we gather, Congress will also be gathering to tackle our country’s fiscal challenges.

Putting our nation’s financial house in order is something we must do now. The first order of business is to return fairness to our tax system, and ultimately to our country.

To achieve success, we need Congress to stand by Americans who want middle-class families put front and center during the fiscal debates.

Two thousand dollars - approximately what middle-class families stand to lose if Democrats and Republicans fail to reach a compromise – is not play money to families.

It’s the difference between traveling to see family over the holidays, or not; buying gifts for loved ones, or not; making it, or not. We need Congress to fight for fairness for middle-class families who cannot afford to see their taxes go up.

But personal finances are only half the story.

What’s at stake here is the whole idea of America as a country that values fairness and opportunity above all, a nation where everyone gets an equal shot at success because everyone plays by the same rules.

At issue is the battle between President Barack Obama and some in Congress who refuse to increase the amount of federal income tax the wealthiest 2 percent pay. What does this mean? That a few Americans who make more than $250,000 a year will see their taxes go up by a small amount.

Politicians brave enough to fight for fairness know that the nation simply can’t afford to spend $1 trillion on tax cuts for the richest 2 percent and also provide a level playing field for the rest of us by ensuring our children go to good schools and our infrastructure doesn’t crumble beneath us.

President Obama also wants to assure that small businesses are protected. The fact is that 97 percent of small businesses would not see their taxes raised a dime. But we don’t need statistics or economists to tell us that small businesses - the dry cleaner in the strip mall, the downtown dress shop, the coffee shop franchisee is not raking in more than $250,000 a year.

What will really hurt small businesses is if Congress allows taxes to go up for their customers. That will mean that millions of Americans will spend less during this holiday season -  in anticipation of being $2,000 in the hole next year - and decide to forgo small gifts. What makes me most anxious is not only what Americans might have to give up this holiday season, but what will happen to our slow recovery if we don’t make progress on the middle-class tax cuts.

In November, Congress was sent a clear message that Americans want to see fairness restored to the tax code and that the wealthiest among us need to pay a little more so we can achieve both short and long-term fiscal discipline to our nation’s budget.

State Rep. Alan Williams can be reached at [email protected] or @Rep Alan Williams-Twitter.

Published Thursday, December 20, 2012