, Salem, MA


December 4, 2013

Letter: Obama inherited the deficit

To the editor:

The economy boomed in the 1950s and ’60s with strong industrial labor unions and income tax rates that topped out at 92 percent for the wealthiest classes, but as big money took over the newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets in the 1960s and ’70s, the word went out with numbing regularity that labor unions, high taxes, regulations were bad for the “job creators.”

Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, cut tax rate to 70 percent, then in 1982 to 50 percent, 38.5 percent in 1987, 28 percent in 1988. You know what? Capitalists took their profits out of the American factories and found cheaper places to manufacture their goods overseas.

Reagan also ran up record deficits as the national debt rose from $900 billion to $2.8 trillion when he left. His successor George H. W. Bush increased the top tax rate to 31 percent.

Bill Clinton in 1993 increased taxes to 39.6 percent on incomes over $250,000, and the federal budget was balanced through 2001 with $559 billion surplus.

George W. Bush administration expressed alarm that the federal government was paying off the national debt too quickly, leaving capitalists no safe harbor for their excess profits. Bush cut the top tax rate to 38.6 percent in 2002 and 35 percent the rest of his tenure, despite his “War on Terror.” He cut the top tax on unearned income to 15 percent; this untaxed income went overseas.

Obama inherited the $1.4 trillion annual deficit in 2009.

Karen Wiggin


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