The newest iteration of the GOP Grand Hypocrisy is declaring that taxes are too high on the one percent, and to declare war and insist that more taxes are needed on the 47% of Americans who didn’t need to pay income tax in 2009 while of course yelling TEA MEANS TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY. The resolution of reality means Republicans want to raise taxes on the middle class. TPM’s Benjy Sarlin explains:
Now the 47% number only tells part of the story: most of those “non-payers” pay payroll taxes, gas taxes, state and local taxes, etc. And in an ironic twist, the phenomenon is almost entirely a result of Republicans’ own enthusiasm for tax cuts. In the 1990s, the GOP majority demanded that any programs aimed at helping poor and middle-income households be structured as refundable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, rather than as direct payments like welfare. President Bush added to the trend by lowering marginal rates across the board. Then Obama structured large chunks of the stimulus as tax breaks in order to garner bipartisan support. The non-payer rate, which had hovered around 20% – 25% since the 1950s, shot over 30% in 2002 and never looked back. And because the tax credits are refundable, many taxpayers aren’t just paying nothing, they’re actually gaining a net positive on their income tax.
But now that Obama is playing hardball on raising revenue, Republicans are rethinking the idea.
“It’s Republican class warfare,” former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett told TPM. “The Democrats say ‘Oh, the millionaires, we need to tax them’ and so they respond in kind.”
Bartlett’s not opposed to the idea of a broader tax code. But the problem is there’s no obvious way to get there without violating other Republican sacred cows on taxes or running into political territory that few politicians dare to tread.
The first issue is that any Republican proposal can’t raise revenue overall — a principle that’s only become more ironclad in the Tea Party era. The obvious solution then is to raise taxes on the middle class but give the money back to the rich and that’s exactly what two of the Republican presidential candidates have proposed. Jon Huntsman would eliminate all tax breaks without exception and use the money to lower income marginal rates — the net effect of which would be a middle class tax hike.
Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would do the same, reducing overall revenues by hundreds of billions while raising taxes on a vast majority of Americans, and lowering them substantially on the rich…and then of course cutting social spending. The reality is that Republicans view the middle class as immoral parasites on society, and want the middle class to share that view in the vain hope that by supporting the GOP’s rise to total power, they in turn will spare their supporters.
Nothing of course could be further from the truth. But as long as Republicans are able to convince Americans to vote for them because they believe “Well, the Republicans won’t target me as a parasite, it’s all those other guys who are the problem” then they’ll discover too late what the GOP truly intends to do.
And if this is the best the GOP can do against the 99% movement, they’re in deep trouble.