What would Ike have to say now?

Published 5:48 am Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recently a video came to light in which Mitt Romney talked about the 47 percent who believe they are “entitled,” but now as never before it is the greedy 1 percent who believe they are “entitled.” And they intend to force legislation to see to it they remain that way. They can only do that if Americans don’t know history.

In America’s “good old days” under presidents Truman and Eisenhower income above $400,000 — today’s equivalent of $4 or $5 million — was taxed at 90 percent and corporations paid about 50 percent. Offshore tax havens were virtually non-existent. And the nation prospered.

Eisenhower, although a Republican, believed it was in the “enlightened self-interest” of the rich to pay high taxes, and against party pressure he refused to support lowering their tax rate. Those taxes paid for the Korean War, the Marshall Plan and the development of the Interstate Highway System. Schools and hospitals were built. Ex-soldiers went to school and bought homes with help from the GI Bill.

Email newsletter signup

Eisenhower believed the rich had done very well, financially, while his soldiers made $21 a month, and while supreme allied commander during World War II he wrote to his wife that he did not believe anyone deserved to make more money than his soldiers. About his own taxes, he wrote “I like to pay what the government thinks I owe.” He urged Mamie to buy war bonds with any extra money they had.

Kennedy lowered the top tax rate to 70 percent. Johnson raised it to 75 percent to help pay for the Vietnam War. Until George W. Bush, taxes were always raised to finance wars, but the costs of the current wars and the corresponding obscene rise in defense spending as a cause of the debt are ignored.

Reagan lowered the top tax rate from 70 percent on income over $400,000 to 28 percent on everyone, and tripled the debt — a debt some believed we would never get out of. But Clinton raised the tax rate to 39 percent and in his last year left a $236 billion surplus, which Bush used as an excuse to enact tax cuts that mainly benefited the rich. He bailed out Wall Street and began two wars that have cost trillions of dollars, thus guaranteeing snowballing deficits which are now being blamed on Obama. If tax cuts for the rich resulted in jobs, there should have been a continuous economic boom since Reagan’s tenure, but the economy did better under Clinton when he raised taxes on everyone.

Mitt Romney paid 13.9 percent in taxes in 2010 on money he did not go to a job to make and has an IRA of between $20 million and $100 million. The Romneys claimed a $77,731 loss on their Olympic “business horse,” Rafalca, which, while it may or may not be legal to do so, is certainly not moral. I can only imagine with what contempt Eisenhower would view such greed, selfishness and tax shenanigans!


Lonna Gooden Van Horn

Northwood, Iowa