Poor People Not Paying Enough Taxes: A GOP Obsession

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“Republicans complaining about the households not paying enough who also want to cut taxes overall are asking the poor to subsidize a tax cut for the rich…”


Here’s a fresh quote from the latest non-Romney front-runner in the GOP presidential race: “This dividing of America [between] 99-1,” Rick Santorum said this morning in New Hampshire, “It’s anybody that makes money and pays taxes and everybody who doesn’t. That’s the 99-1.”

Santorum (like Michele Bachmann before him) is picking a fight with the millions of Americans who make money and don’t pay federal income taxes. For the last few years, this group represents about half of the country.

Indeed the statistic inspired a website,  “We Are the 53 Percent,” which called out the 47% (or more) of households who owed no federal income tax in 2010 and again in 2011, because their credits and deductions wiped out their liability.

Since 2000, the poorest 40% of households have averaged a federal income tax rate below zero. The graph below shows federal income taxes since 1979, from the lowest quintile (on the bottom) to the top 1% (at the top). The big picture is that we have a progressive tax system where federal income tax rates have fallen slightly for every class of taxpayers:

FEDERAL INCOME TAX RATES

Federal Individual Income Tax Rates (United States, 2010)

But federal income tax isn’t the only tax out there. In fact, FIT accounts for only 40 percent of total government revenue. Another 40ish percent comes from payroll taxes, which all working families pay up to about $107,000. The rest comes from corporate income taxes and excise taxes on things like gas.

When you add all of those taxes together, you get the overall tax burden that economists call the “effective tax rate.” Here is the graph of effective federal taxes for the same groups as above (it’s a similar story of gradually falling rates for every group, with some jumpiness at the top):

TOTAL EFFECTIVE TAX RATES

Total Effective Individual Income Tax Rates (United States, 2010)

Three big points, here. First, the fact that all the lines in the second graph are above zero suggest that the vast majority of households that don’t pay federal income taxes do pay federal taxes. (The few that don’t might still owe local and state taxes.)

Second, the reason most poor families don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans and Democrats keep cutting their taxes.

Third, just about everybody has shared in the tax cut parade of the last 30 years. We haven’t shared equally, but we’ve all gotten a break.

According to Santorum’s quote, the most important class division in America is between income tax payers and non-income tax payers. This is a weird fight to pick for the Republican party, and particularly for Santorum, whose tax scheme would probably increase the number of households who owe no federal income tax.

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic Online…


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Michele Bachmann’s Politics Conflict With Basic Christian Values She Claims To Embrace

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From Michael Gershon’s blog at The Washington Post online

 

Michele Bachmann screamingMichele Bachmann is a candidate of whopping internal contradictions.

Earlier this month, I heard the Minnesota congresswoman give her Christian testimony at a church service in Osceola, Iowa. She told the story of her father leaving her mother, of the economic struggles her family faced, and of the encounter with God she experienced as a teenager. Her tone was direct, non-political and obviously sincere.

A few days later, at a campaign stop in Iowa, Bachmann was asked by a Latino college student what she would do to help the children of undocumented immigrants.

The presidential candidate responded: “Their parents are the ones who brought them here… They did not have the legal right to come to the United States. We do not owe people who broke our laws to come into the country. We don’t owe them anything.”

Bachmann is not just making a political point but a moral argument. She asserts that children — who have committed no crime themselves — should be denied assistance because of the legal status of their parents. Her point is made without qualification. It doesn’t matter whether the children of illegal immigrants are hungry or sick. This standard rules out everything from emergency room treatment to elementary school education to prenatal care for the unborn. Bachmann’s pro-life convictions, evidently, only apply to children covered by a green card.

It is difficult to determine what tradition of moral reasoning Bachmann is drawing upon. Her argument seems to involve a mix of extreme nationalism and utilitarian lifeboat ethics. Christian morality, in contrast, affirms that human worth is intrinsic and universal. Men and women are created in God’s image, which is equally present in every tribe, race and nationality. Governments have a responsibility to honor human dignity in the application of law, even when it comes to noncitizens. Children, along with others who are particularly vulnerable, have a particularly urgent claim to care and protection.

These beliefs do not translate easily or directly into specific immigration policies. Nations have the right to control their borders and enforce their laws. But when it comes to human beings — and especially when it comes to children — it is never permissible to say, “We don’t owe them anything.”

Bachmann’s candidacy represents a digression in the quality and seriousness of evangelical political engagement. It is difficult to imagine Mike Huckabee boasting of his indifference to the health and welfare of children, whatever their background. Even Pat Robertson, running for president in 1988, would have balked at such callousness.

Holy BibleBoth men would have been too conscious of the warnings found in Matthew 25, where Christianity’s founder defines the proper Christian attitude toward the hungry, the sick, the prisoner and the stranger. “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,” he said, “you did not do for me.”

Bachmann holds her faith deeply and understands its political implications poorly. Her campaign is increasingly discrediting to causes — including the pro-life cause — she seeks to serve.


Read more from Michael Gershon at The Washington Post Online…


Michele Bachmann: Obama spent ‘$200 million/day’ during visit to India

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Really? $200 million per day for President Obama to make a short diplomatic trip overseas to India?

Assuming that the White House staff hasn’t increased by 50,000 or so employees recently (or that the 12 to 45 members of the White House advance team now each receive a per diem of $65,000 while on the road), one could reasonably surmise that Mrs. Bachmann’s calculations leading to her alleged $200 million daily expense were…

  1. Disingenuous?
  2. Patently untrue?
  3. Ill-informed?
  4. Indicative of severe deficiencies in reasoning ability, stunted emotional maturity and high-probability of adult-onset chronic bed-wetting?

Did she know that $200 million is more than the United States spends each day to conduct the entire war operation in Afghanistan? Does Bachmann understand anything outside of
the goofy false retail encampments of Woodbury, MN?

Now let’s watch Michele Bachmann make a complete fool out of herself in front of various cameras before national audiences:


[youtube http://youtu.be/OATKPpEOMxo]
[youtube http://youtu.be/mlPSRFyhzec]

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Michele Bachmann says kindred spirit is… John Wayne Gacy?

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You can see the resemblance to John Wayne Gacy right around the eyes.

This morning, while in Iowa to announce her candidacy for president, Michele Bachmann made a play for local brownie points by comparing herself to one of the town’s native sons, John Wayne.
But John Wayne was from Winterset, Iowa. And the John Wayne from Waterloo is actually killer clown John Wayne Gacy.

Oops?

Speaking on the front lawn of a quaint little home, Bachmann told a Fox News reporter, “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

But The Duke is actually from a town about three hours away. The only famous John Wayne from Waterloo was one of the most deranged murderers in American history — the “Killer Clown” himself, John Wayne Gacy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PsLfL9vMaUY]

 

Is There Really Gold in Ft. Knox? – The Atlantic Monthly

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By Joshua Green, a senior editor of The Atlantic and a weekly political columnist for the Boston Globe

I’m quite fond of Ron Paul. I enjoyed spending time with him for this Atlantic profile. I liked learning about Austrian economics. I like the fact that he thinks differently than other Republicans and has the courage of his convictions. Washington is a more interesting place because of him. And he makes good copy. That’s especially true now that he has become, at long last, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.

But I have to admit that even I did not foresee, and in fact never could have imagined, Paul’s latest crusade:
He’s skeptical that the United States really has the gold it claims to have in Ft. Knox. And he wants some answers!

Read more at The Atlantic…