Since it is the start of the income tax season, one reflected on the tax rate most Americans pay and wondered why they perpetually complain they are “taxed enough already.” This is particularly true now that the nation is aware that European nations offer “socialized” universal healthcare and some liberals are asking; “If Europeans can do it, why can’t Americans?” After all, this is the greatest nation on Earth and Americans can do everything Europeans do, only better.
That may be true, except Americans are unwilling to pay to do much of anything better, much less catch up with Europe and offer universal healthcare. After briefly perusing some tax statistics in America and England, it became immediately apparent that although a single payer, or universal healthcare system is a dream come true, the cost to the people all but ensures single payer is not in the near future; and no political revolution is going to change that fact.
Americans are not interested in paying significantly higher income taxes to have ‘government-provided’ healthcare. National health insurance, or single payer, is a dream for many Americans, but if they actually comprehended what it will cost them, and the rest of the taxpayers, they may pause and reconsider.
For example, Britain has a relatively well-regarded universal healthcare system that every citizen pays for through national income tax. The tax rate for income tax and National Health Insurance in the United Kingdom (England) in 2015-16 for all citizens earning between zero and £31,785, considered basic-rate (flat rate) taxpayers, is a whopping 20 percent of their entire income. It is a full 15 percent more than America’s middle class tax rate and would entail a 20 percent tax hike for 45 percent of Americans who pay nothing now.
If a British citizen earns just one pence over that “basic threshold,” their income tax rate jumps to 40 percent up to £150,000. For income over that number the rate is 45 percent; all to cover the National Health plan administered solely by the government with a form of rationing.
For a comparison, and one reason why many Democrats are reticent to go all-in to support enactment of single-payer in America, in 2015, 45 percent of Americans with earned income paid zero income tax. One cannot comprehend how nearly half of the population living in poverty and barely making it and then saddled with a 20 percent tax bill will embrace being poorer to have basic healthcare when they will be unable to eat or pay rent.
Many of those “45-percenters” are in poor Republican states and already complain they are “taxed enough already;” it is just one reason they reliably vote for Republicans pledging to cut taxes, get rid of Medicare and Medicaid, and get government out of the healthcare business.
For middle class Americans, the federal income tax rate stands at about 5.3 percent for tax year 2015. It is as laughable that Americans paying nothing in income taxes will support a 20 percent increase as it is the middle class supporting a 34.7 percent tax hike for universal healthcare; not when they already have healthcare insurance or can buy a “Cadillac” policy and still have money to eat, pay rent, take a vacation, and still afford their 5.3 percent federal income tax bill.
For the richest one-percent of income earners, the average effective federal income tax rate is just 24.7 percent. That group is still screaming bloody murder over the slight 2.9 percent tax increase at the end of 2012. Imagine, without laughing, their outrage at paying 45 percent of their annual incomes, about a 20 percent increase, so all Americans can have universal healthcare.
What is even more laughable is imagining a Democrat, any Democrat, submitting a bill in any House or Senate committee to raise taxes on the poor by 20 percent, raise middle class taxes by 35 percent, and saddle the wealthy elite with a 20 percent tax hike. Now imagine the Republican majority House laughing like banshees at whichever Democrat proposes epic tax hikes on all Americans; especially when Republicans pledge to cut taxes as is their base’s demand.
The grand Republican plan is a two-tiered “flat tax,” rate schedule with about a 10 percent flat tax on all Americans up to what most consider a very-upper middle class income; effectively a tax hike on every American who is not in the “wealthy” class. The highest rate for the wealthy elite is proposed at around 20 percent that does not account for the special deductions and breaks only the wealthy get. Their effective rate will be approximately 5 to 8 percent; a decrease of about 15 percent and less than the poorest American paying 10 percent.
Now, some argue that to account for outrageously higher taxes and a much-desired single payer, Democrats will use charm and a “political revolution” to mesmerize Koch Republicans in Congress to raise the minimum wage to make up for monumental tax hikes on the poor and middle class. Keep in mind, the same Koch Republicans who want to get rid of Medicare, Obamacare, and any kind of healthcare also want to abolish the minimum wage; not raise it. If they were inclined to do right by American workers, they would have passed a minimum wage hike seven years ago when President Obama started begging them to help American workers.
It is curious that few Americans wonder why Republicans are pouring no small amount of super PAC money into ads attacking Hillary Clinton using rhetoric lifted directly from the Sander’s campaign. They want an election pitting a Republican, almost any Republican, against a candidate pledging to raise taxes substantially on everyone. Despite what many pundits say, the candidate that terrifies Republicans is Mrs. Clinton. If that were not the case, the Kochs and Karl Rove would be using their resources now to attack the candidate promising to raise taxes.
Americans are not Europeans; they are “rugged individualists” and not interested in paying higher taxes for the good of the nation, much less their fellow Americans. It is not that Europeans are any better than Americans, they just care about their fellow citizens and comprehend that being taxed at higher rates benefits the entire population.
Remember, this is America and the people have been programmed to hate the federal government for over three decades. Add in the past seven years of Republican conditioning that being selfish and greedy is an American Christian virtue, and the idea of paying higher taxes so every American has basic healthcare is, although working out well in Europe, a pipe dream in America no matter who proposes it.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.