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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Pigs On The Wing

Apparently it’s now chic in conservative circles to argue that people living from paycheck to paycheck aren’t paying enough in income taxes. (I saw this originally in a Wall Street Journal a couple weeks back and for some reason ignored it then. But since I was subjected to reading this yesterday at breakfast I couldn’t resist this time.)

1. This is the first time I’ve heard anything about “ordinary Americans” being undertaxed coming from the right. I guess the thinking is that people who don’t have to pay a lot of money in income taxes don’t hate the government enough. (The government run by the right wing, you mean?)

2. I’m not an economist, but, why didn’t it occur to anyone quoted in this story (even the Democratic types) that maybe the reason wealthy Americans are paying a higher and higher share of federal income taxes is that they are making a higher and higher share of the nation’s income? The Post article (and the charts included in the print edition) makes no mention of this possibility at all.

3. This seems like an even worse idea in bad economic times. If consumer spending is down, it’s probably not a good idea to do something that will not only make them poorer but will make them feel poorer. (See also: The giveaway to credit card companies that is the bankruptcy reform bill, which has continued to get bogged down over, of all things, the abortion issue.)

4. Conservatives are always decrying left-wing “class warfare.” I’m surprised they’d propose something like this, which in theory, should seriously undermine conservative efforts to pit the middle class against the working poor, or the working poor against the out of work.

5. Speaking as a political analyst, it looks like the Republicans are going to overplay their hand again, if this is any indication. Democrats should be on this like a cheap suit. Oh, the irony of Democrats speaking to working-class and middle-class audience claiming the Republicans don’t think that people like them aren’t being taxed enough.

I wish I could laugh at all this. Because when you look at this from a distance, it’s kind of funny.


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