By Joshua Sager
The Republican Party now has decided to support an increase in the income tax, as shown by statements from the top members of the party. The current talking points for the right wing are that we are in economic trouble not only due to "out of control spending" but also the fact that "50% of all Americans don't pay income taxes". The 50% mentioned in this statement are not the top half of Americans, but rather those too poor to pay income taxes under current tax policy.
The idea that there is "out of control" spending in Washington is actually arguably valid, depending on what you believe that the government is responsible for. If you believe that the government should only provide the functions explicitly outlined in the constitution (defense, three branches of government, trade, etc.) as the right wing do, then yes the government is spending too much. “Excess spending programs” such as those wasteful, social welfare programs, “job killing” environmental/safety regulators, and “wasteful” federal Pell grants are just three examples of how the "excess spending" either takes money from the successful and gives it to the "lazy" unemployed or limits how much the “job creators” can make. As the right wingers say, "They must be lazy, I mean come on, if they really worked they could make something of themselves.”
The new idea that has recently permeated the minds of the right wing is that since half of Americans don't pay income taxes (after deductions and credits), taxes should be made "flatter" and apply to everybody regardless of income levels. The general idea of this philosophy is that anybody who doesn't make enough to pay income taxes isn't paying taxes and is thus a free loader on the system.
Most of the potential Republican presidential candidates have expressed support for flattening the income tax and applying it to even those who are currently not paying any. There is only one conclusion to the flattening of the income tax rate and that is shifting the burden of taxes onto the lower classes. While lower classes don't pay as much in income taxes as the rich, they give a disproportionate amount of their income to other taxes such as the gas tax or sales tax. If the middle class and poor are forced to pay more on income taxes, they are forced to pay a much higher percentage of their income to taxes than the rich (making our tax rates regressive).
As a secondary but connected point, since Republicans are obsessed with cutting the taxes on the rich and corporations, the tax burden on the poor will increase to pick up the slack and services for the poor will be cut. The Republicans are always screaming about the redistribution of wealth through social programs, but in reality, the real transfer of wealth is from the poor to the rich through the regressive tax code.
As it turns out, the Republicans are not in fact against all taxes, only those that tax the rich "job creators" and corporations. Any tax that takes from the poor is apparently just fine to the new Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Republican base is neither intelligent nor knowledgeable enough to see that the controllers of their party are currently selling them out and the Democrats are not effectively making the case as to how perverse the actions of the right wing truly are. If the right wing doesn’t truly believe in their own propaganda on taxes, what do they unify around other than religion and representing the interests of the rich (two concepts that theoretically shouldn't be espoused by any party)? We are gradually, but with increasing speed, turning into a two tier economy where there are the super-rich who control everything and then there are the rest of us, with nothing.
The Sarcastic Liberal