The High Cost of American Privilege

Friday, March 02, 2012

Edgar Hernandez purchases a Television during 'Black Friday' at a Best Buy. (Sandy Huffake/Getty)

Sitting down with CNBC, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner explained how the Obama Administration saw a way to correct the nation’s fiscal problems. He argued that “if you don’t try to generate more revenues through tax reform, if you don’t ask, you know, the most fortunate Americans to bear a slightly larger burden of the privilege of being an American, then you have to — the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security.”

Is Geithner correct?  Is it a privilege to be an American?  And if so … what does that privilege cost?
Joining us now are Rogers Smith Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan InstitutIs Mr. Geithner correct, is there a cost that comes with the privilege of being an American; and if so, what does that privilege cost?  

Rogers Smith is professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and Diana Furchtgott-Roth is senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Rogers Smith

Comments [11]

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Mar. 06 2013 11:32 PM
MurrayT from Tulsa, OK

We replaced a 1999 Isuzu with an all electric Nissan LEAF last October.

Our monthly fuel bill has dropped from $300 per month for gasoline to only $32 per month for electricity.

Filling up at home is also very convenient.

Mar. 05 2012 12:10 PM
marilyn maillet from Waltham, MA

This comment is in regards to the topic of gas prices:

More and more today, before the wheels are turning on any gas driven vehicle, engines are started up and left running either to warm the vehicle up in the winter, or cool the vehicle down in the summer. It is against the law in Mass to leave your engine idling for more than 3 minutes. The American Lung Assoc of MA has a pamphlet called IDLE-FREE MASSACHUSETTS (Turn off you vehicle when parked or stopped).I believe people think if the wheels aren't turning their not using gas. Unfortunately it seems I am the only one that knows this. Just think we could save the air, our health and money just by doing this.

Mar. 05 2012 10:29 AM
Doug from Colorado from Loveland, Colorado

How has the high price of gas affected me?

Not at all. For some reason, crude oil in my area of the country is

plentiful , and demand for fuel flat. Our current price for unleaded fuel

in Colorado is an average 3.05/gal. That's no joke.

I commute to work at nearly 40 mpg, so not much of an impact yet.

Good luck out there !!

Mar. 05 2012 08:08 AM

I consider myself very fortunate to have been born an American. Here in NYC our "poor" live better than the middle class of many countries. In France the middle class have living standards below ours - but if you have a baby the government gives you $800. I would like to see taxes reduced, ALL loopholes removed - less generous benefits - good education. Lets not turn into Europe.
If the government was handing out less benefits - maybe unions could make a comeback. Why fight for better benefits at work when the government picks up the slack.

Mar. 02 2012 10:32 AM
Haley from Detroit, MI

Yes, being American is a privilege. But I should feel privileged to live in any country that allows me the freedoms and benefits of making a name for myself in the world, and America is in some ways no better or worse than many other countries in that respect.

Mar. 02 2012 09:14 AM

Why are "higher taxes" the only way to pay for "American privilege"? Almost half of all Americans pay no income taxes whatsoever. Why wouldn't national service be another way to "pay" for one's "American privilege"? If American privilege is so universal, so enjoyed by all, then why would any "payment" for such a "privilege" be levied only on high-income Americans?

Mar. 02 2012 08:16 AM
Roy Zuckerman from NYC

Yes, it is a privilege, but not ideal on many levels.

Unlike most European nations, we are taxable on worldwide income. And the 1% are more privileged
than others since the law and their resources allow them to create tax shelters, trusts, etc to avoid taxes.

Mr. Geither knows this well, and his comments are hypocritical.

Moreover, our health care and education are well below European countries.

Yes, compared to Iran and North Korea, we are privileged. Compared to Switzerland, France, Germany, not so much.

Roy Zuckerman

Mar. 02 2012 08:14 AM

Is this segment a news story? Or is The Takeaway now a Super PAC for the Obama '12 campaign?

Mar. 02 2012 08:04 AM
anna from new york

I am sure that students of Prof. Smith who clearly can function on the level or propaganda only receive quality education (yes, sarcasm).
Several things.
Pomposity doesn't mean correctness. I can assure our professor that one can get much better education somewhere else. Actually, I can hit the pompous tone myself: "How dare you call my medieval alma mater and my education (and teaching) there inferior?"
Secondly, to sound more convincing, dear professor, expand your vocabulary beyond "We are the best and the brightest." I understand that you own your success to your ability and desire to function in the level you are on, but don't expect an applause from me and others who actually know the differences between propaganda and analysis.
Thirdly, again, diversify your vocabulary. Add to the word "unfortunate," such adjectives as not criminal, not ruthless, not barbaric, etc.
In other words, why don't you get some real education ... somewhere?

Mar. 02 2012 06:34 AM

My father, brother, two uncles and many other family members have served in the US military, so I find discussion of the "privilege" of being an American a bit off-base. It isn't a privilege, it is a right, that some but not all of us have fought for. And while I certainly agree that the wealthy should pay more in taxes so that the average Americans who are providing necessary services (police, firemen, schoolteachers, librarians, etc.) are not fired en masse, I do not think that Timothy Geithner, who is himself a flagrant tax cheat, is exactly the best spokesperson for this message.

Mar. 02 2012 06:24 AM

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