Mr. BOSWELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to continue a discussion started by a good friend and former Iowa Congressman, Berkley Bedell, in yesterday's Des Moines Register, page 9A.
In Congressman Bedell's column titled, ``Those Who Own America Should Help Pay for Government,'' Congressman Bedell argues that Congress's budget focus on cutting costs instead of generating revenue is fundamentally skewed and not good business.
He writes, ``Show me a company that ignores revenue and focuses on cutting costs, and I will show you a firm that is headed for failure. Show me a government that ignores revenue and focuses on cutting costs, and I will show you a government that is a failure.''
Congressman Bedell writes that corporations and the richest Americans need to properly contribute to the government through taxes that are relevant to their wealth. For me, this means eliminating billions a year in subsidies to multibillion-dollar oil and gas companies; it means ending mortgage deductions for vacation homes and yachts that cost taxpayers billions a year in lost revenue; it means ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent to increase our revenue by more than $40 billion a year.
Americans deserve a government that works, and blindly cutting costs and services doesn't accomplish that.
[From the Des Moines Register, Apr. 12, 2011]
Guest opinion: Those who own America should help pay for government
(By: Berkley Bedell)
I started a fishing tackle manufacturing business, Berkley and Co., with $50 saved from my newspaper route when I was 15 years old.
From the beginning, my main focus was on sales and revenue.
The business was successful.
In my 50s, I ran for Congress. I won and appointed a person to run the company. He focused on cutting costs rather than building revenue and the business was soon headed for bankruptcy.
My son, Tom, came back to Iowa to run the company. He focused on marketing and research to build revenue, and when he sold the company a few years ago, it was by far the largest most successful fishing tackle manufacturing company in the nation.
Show me a company that ignores revenue and focuses on cutting costs, and I will show you a firm that is headed for failure. Show me a government that ignores revenue and focuses on cutting costs, and I will show you a government that is a failure.
Today that is exactly what we have in our state and federal governments.
Like most people and most corporations, I would prefer not to have to pay taxes. I am now 90 years old. I lived during the middle of the 1900s when our top income tax rate varied between 70 and 91 percent--more than double that of today. I saw what we can do when we properly tax ourselves to build a better nation.
Today the top 1 percent of households have over 38 percent of all privately held stock, 60 percent of financial securities and 62 percent of business equity. The top 10 percent own 80 percent to 90 percent of stocks, bonds, trust funds and business equities, and over 75 percent of non-home real estate. Since financial health is what counts as far as control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10 percent of the people own the United States of America.
My wife and I are part of that 10 percent. We are heroes in our hometown, just as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are national heroes.
Like them, we are not bad people, we want to be good people and contribute so we have formed a foundation for alternative medicine (FAIM.org) to try to do good with our money.
But our government is all screwed up. Instead of using everyone's wealth to build a better society as we did in the 1950s, we are cutting taxes to the rich and corporate America while we cut back on services and jobs for the masses. You do not create jobs by firing teachers and lowering wages.
People are starting to rise up in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states. They are correct to be disturbed and to protest. I hope they will keep it up. I hope they realize the basic problem. It is, revenue matters!
Until we properly tax corporate America and those of us who can afford it, and use those revenues to put our people back to work, clean up the environment, replace fossil fuels, reduce the deficit and bring back the prosperity we had in the middle of the last century, I believe we all need to join those protesters.
Having served in Congress, I have seen how political contributions from the wealthy, and now corporations, control our government. It is time for the people--all of us--to do as did the people of Egypt and join the street marches to demand that our government bring back the time we had in my youth, when we worked together, rich and poor, to contribute the tax revenue needed to build a nation that was the envy of the world.