Originally published on by The Nation

The Nation: Wealth for the Common Good

At a moment when conservative Democrats are holding real healthcare reform hostage under the guise of “fiscal discipline”–fighting against a robust public option, promoting a regressive taxation of health benefits, and opposing a surtax on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans–a network of business leaders and high net worth individuals has emerged as a powerful and sane voice in this debate: Wealth for the Common Good.

Recognizing that the Bush tax cuts allowed households with incomes over $250,000 to save more than $700 billion during a time of war— and that the economic policies of the past thirty years have disproportionately benefited top earners–Wealth for the Common Good has called on the Obama administration and Congress to immediately repeal the Bush cuts for households earning over $235,000 before they expire in 2011. That would raise an estimated $43 billion in revenues and help address this nation’s public investment deficit–in healthcare, schools, infrastructure and other areas vital to our nation’s health and wealth. Over 200 individuals (including me) who would pay these taxes have now signed onto the petition which will be delivered to President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and (for what it’s worth) House Republican Leader John Boehner.

As for the proposed surtax on individuals with incomes over $350,000 to pay for healthcare reform, Chuck Collins, the co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), told me: “The alternative to taxing the wealthy to pay for healthcare reform is to tax employer-funded health benefits or not cover all Americans. Both of these are unacceptable options. The members of Wealth for the Common Good are aware of both the urgency to reform healthcare and the unfairness of the current tax system. The proposed surcharge would greatly reverse some of the most regressive elements of our federal tax system and fix our broken health system.”

People like Arul Menezes–a principal architect at Microsoft–recognize that their financial success is due in part to public investment. “Every day I benefit from schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, parks, and civic amenities that were built and paid for by previous generations who were much less well off than we are today,” Menezes said. “Yet they had the collective will to invest in their future and the future of their children.”

Let’s demonstrate that same kind of collective will once again and reverse our thirty-year public investment deficit–starting with healthcare.