Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Current phony meme: GOP wants to tax the poor

It's an oldie, but a goodie: the Republicans want to tax poor people and give rich people tax cuts. Robert Borosage, in an op-ed at Politico, freely argues that it's what conservatives want, that it's a badge of honor among men to call for taxing the poor. As evidence, he cites statements from various conservative politicians:
Perry launched his presidential campaign expressing dismay at the “injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.” And he was not alone. Every major candidate — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Mitt Romney and Cain — has suggested that too many of the working poor aren’t paying income taxes, a position The Wall Street Journal describes as “GOP doctrine.” 
“We don’t have enough people paying taxes in this country,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a GOP vice presidential hopeful, who trumpets conservative gospel. “We need to broaden the base so that everybody pays something,” said Bachmann. Only Ron Paul dissents — saying he doesn’t want to raise taxes on anyone.
Now to be fair, there's some truth in here. Some do think that it's expressly unfair that a large swath of the population pays no income tax. And those that think this are often confused or are simply trying to score political points, insofar as demographics dictate that some shouldn't be paying much--if any--in the way of income taxes.

For instance, most retirees aren't earning real income, they're living off of retirement savings and Social Security. And many young adults are in a similar boat, especially when they are in school. There's nothing wrong with that at all, in my opinion. Then there are the unemployed--current between nine and sixteen percent of the population, depending on one's parameters--who obviously can't be paying income taxes. That's a lot of people. Some conservative types forget this reality all too quickly.

Yet, Borosage is still taking liberties with the truth. Consider the quote he provides from Senator Rubio: “We don’t have enough people paying taxes in this country." Now, that's a real quote, that's exactly what Rubio said. Except he didn't say it in context of wanting poor people to pay taxes, he said it in context of wanting the economy to improve, so more Americans would have jobs, would be able to get better pay, and thus we would have more people paying taxes, not because tax laws were being changed, but because more people could pay taxes, by virtue of making more money. Here is Rubio opining on tax payers and the need for more of them:
“We don't need new taxes. We need new taxpayers, people that are gainfully employed, making money and paying into the tax system."
Simple, right? Easy to understand and not about taxing the poor, at all. Yet a simple Google search returns thousands of hits, almost all of which portray Rubio as interested in taxing the poor, not in helping people get back to work, become successful tax-paying citizens. And as near as I can tell, the Rubio quote--"We don't have enough people paying taxes in this country"--is flat-out wrong. It comes from John Huntsman paraphrasing what Rubio said in the above speech. That speech was all about creating jobs and why such was good for everything and everyone, including government revenues. Whether the Democrat or Republican approach is the right one for creating jobs doesn't matter a whit, with regard to Rubio's sentiment. He's right, absolutely right: more jobs, a better economy, means more taxpayers. And Borosage is flat-out wrong. Or at best, confused.

Cheers, all.

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