As I wrote last night, Warren Buffett objects to paying a substantially lower overall tax rate than most middle-class Americans, including his own staff. (See his op-ed from Sunday’s New York Times here.)
Lately, a number of Republicans from that party’s right wing have embraced the opposite view, not only to maintain or even reduce today’s relatively low tax rates on the rich, but also to raise taxes at the low end of the income scale.
One example is Rick Perry, who calls it “an injustice” that many Americans are paid so little that don’t even owe income tax. But the injustice he’s talking about isn’t that they’re paid so little, it’s that people barely able to make ends meet aren’t being hit with an additional tax. (I wonder if he knows that early in its history, the income tax applied only to the rich.)
Keep in mind that the vast majority of low-income Americans pay state and local taxes, which in most of the U.S. actually fall most heavily on the poorest 1/5 of the public (detailed analysis here). Also recall that what we refer to as “income tax” is in reality not the only federal tax on income. Pretty much every working person pays payroll taxes that are separate from “income tax.” Moreover, high-income people pay the full payroll tax rate on only the first $160,800 of income, above which is sharply drops, and of course there’s no payroll tax at all on investment income, most of which also gets a substantially reduced income tax rate.
Another advocate of raising taxes on the poor is Michele Bachmann, who says she also wants to cut the corporate tax rate by has expressed her views in a more detailed form than Perry has, and she not only wants to raise taxes on the working poor, she wants to slash the corporate tax rate by nearly 75% and do away with the capital gains tax entirely (so if you make a bundle buying and selling in the stock market, you wouldn’t owe any tax on it at all).
Incidentally, last year Fox News personality Steve Doucy even went so far as to suggest low-income people should not even be allowed to vote.
But I’m glad to say that the misconception that the working poor are skating by without paying taxes is by no means universal among Republicans or conservatives, a high percentage of whom are smarter than that. Here, for example, is one who explains succinctly what people like Perry and Bachmann don’t seem to understand, and while I’m not his biggest fan, he deserves to have the last word. Over to you, Newt: