The rich pay taxes at a lower rate? That's a problem in need of fixing

Hani Hamdan
Hani Hamdan, DDS lives in Burnsville, Minn. and practices dentistry in Lakeville, Minn.
Submitted photo

That an ultra-rich man sends an op-ed piece to the New York Times, pleading for Congress to tax him and his wealthy friends more, is something I hope will serve as a big eye-opener for all of us. I don't need a long list of facts to support an argument. All I need is to mention a small, yet hugely important, fact:

Last year, Warren Buffett paid only 17.6 percent in federal income tax, while most of us paid a much higher percentage.

I had to stop reading and scratch my head for a moment. Is that real? But ... but ... how? It was news to me. Billionaires pay less in taxes, as a percentage of their income, than middle-class Americans.

How did I miss that? I guess between empty political talking points, fears of losing our values, multiple kinds of coverage of the president and of Congress, anti-Muslim hate speech and overblown new stories (Casey Anthony, anyone?), this giant elephant trotted by us and stomped on our economy while making the rich richer and helping to crush the middle class even more.

I'm not talking about complex economic equations or long-term outlooks. I'm talking about a simple fact: America is a place where the super-wealthy pay a lot less in income taxes, as a percentage of their income, than the middle class. I'm almost trying not to believe it because of how disturbing it is.

How this came to happen is not important right now. We have an economy to fix -- no time for more bickering, please. We should all be able to agree that this is wrong, and it needs to stop now. Warren Buffet made a pretty convincing argument of how having the rich pay their fair share of taxes will not curtail investing, but he didn't need to. I don't need a 76-year-old billionaire to tell me that the rich shouldn't pay less in taxes than the middle class. A 4-year -old can tell me that.

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This is why I don't follow most stories in the mainstream media. They distract us, with small problems that affect a small number of people, from big problems that affect us all.

Oh, and before I forget: Thank you, Mr. Buffett.


Hani Hamdan, DDS, lives in Burnsville and practices dentistry in Lakeville, Minn. He is a contributor and editor of and a source in MPR's Public Insight Network.