Proposed tax overhaul burdens the working class

by Staff

Health insurance is a scary thing to think about in America right now. Everyone knows it’s expensive, and everyone needs it. Unfortunately, there is little hope in sight for all working Americans having the coverage they and their families need. Despite the dirth of hope for the less fortunate to get healthcare, there is plenty of hope for more tax breaks for the wealthy.

According to The Washington Post, the Bush administration is considering the possibilities of a major tax code overhaul that would drastically cut or eliminate taxes altogether on savings and investment. Plans include shielding interest, dividends and capital gains from investment and expanding tax breaks on business investments.

You might be wondering how we can afford such drastic tax cuts, seeing as how we are a nation greatly in debt. Well, the Bush administration is planning on funding this tax overhaul by eliminating deductions of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and eliminating business tax deductions for employer-provided health insurance.

That’s right, folks. In a nation where 45 million Americans are already lacking health insurance, according to www.cnn.com, Bush plans on making it even harder for the working class to get the coverage they need. Of course, no plans are finalized yet. White House spokesman Clare Buchan says we can expect an executive order naming the tax code panel’s members and stating its mission by the end of the year, according to The Washington Post.

“The president believes the tax code should be simpler, fairer and more conducive to economic growth,” Buchan said. “And he looks forward to appointing an advisory panel to review options for reforming the tax code.” It is clear the economic growth the president is speaking of will benefit only the wealthiest Americans who have large savings and investments to begin with. He says this will also help the tax-free health savings accounts spoken of during the elections as well. But are health savings accounts what Americans really need?

According to USA Today, the average American household owes $84,454 in personal debt. The savings from Americans’ wages should be going to pay off this growing financial burden. Instead, the current administration wants to help us save to pay for our own health insurance out-of-pocket, while at the same time discouraging businesses from providing health care to its employees.

When I finish school, I’d like to think my future employer will offer a fair and comprehensive health insurance plan. I’d also like to think I can put aside a large chunk of my future wages to pay off student loans and my, unfortunately large, credit card debt. This hope seems like a bit of a joke right now.

The tax-free health savings accounts seem to be the new approach to an already failing health care system in this country. Hard-working Americans already struggling to get by will be forced to shoulder more of the burden of paying for health insurance, while their employers will have more incentives to invest in corporate growth rather than the well-being of their employees.

For the wealthiest percentage of Americans and the largest corporations, this country must seem like a pretty good place to be right now. For those with enough money to have large savings, investments and capital gains, health insurance is probably not a big issue of concern. Interest alone on these tax-free savings accounts could easily pay for health care to those who stand to benefit most from these tax breaks.

The working poor and middle class this country depends on are the ones who stand to lose the most from these proposed tax code changes. This country, as with any other civilized nation, could not survive without the working class. Rather than rewarding honest work, though, we seem to only reward those who already have enough to gain from investments. What a shame.

-Gaia Veenis is a journalism senior.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to letters@thedailyaztec.com. Anonymous letters will not be printed – include your full name, major and year in school.