Political Animal

Blog

August 14, 2011 9:00 AM Perry pushes for higher taxes

By Steve Benen

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry kicked off his Republican presidential campaign yesterday, his speech buried the needle on the Cliche-O-Meter, offering up one generic, predictable GOP theme after another. There was, however, one line in particular that stood out as interesting.

“We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax. And you know the liberals out there are saying that we need to pay more.”

In this context, “we” refers to Perry and everyone who shares his worldview.

The oddity, of course, is that the governor seems to be arguing that Americans don’t pay enough in income taxes. Or more accurately, it’s unjust that more Americans aren’t paying income taxes.

This is an increasingly popular argument in right-wing circles — Michele Bachmann, one of Perry’s presidential rivals, has pushed the same line — though it’s entirely counter-intuitive. The argument isn’t even subtle: far-right Republicans are annoyed that many Americans don’t make enough money to be eligible to pay income taxes, so they believe it’s important to get more of these lower- and middle-income Americans paying more to the government.

In case anyone’s forgotten, the relevant details matters here: millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes.

It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something — the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify.

Perry considers this an “injustice,” one which he apparently intends to fix, and which he feels strongly enough about to include in his closely-watched kick-off speech.

This should make for quite a 2012 debate, shouldn’t it? Some of the most far-right candidates want Americans with less to pay more in taxes. Seriously.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

Post a comment
  • SHARKSBREATH on August 14, 2011 9:07 AM:

    Even Newt Gingrich called this argument silly.

  • FRP on August 14, 2011 9:07 AM:

    Oh Goody !
    It ought ta be that much easier to present an open and clear denunciation of this hypocritical posturing by the legions of interested journalists climbing up the journalism ladder .
    He he he ...

  • c u n d gulag on August 14, 2011 9:08 AM:

    "Tax the poor and middle class more, and leave the Job Creators alone! And reward the Pharisees and the Money-Lenders. so sayeth I."

    Jesus "Bass-ackwards" Christ
    Rick
    Chapter 1:
    Giants 24 Dallas 13

  • rick on August 14, 2011 9:09 AM:

    If it's such a good deal, why doesn't Rick Perry make the necessary personal adjustments that would move him and his family into this obviuosly desireable tax bracket?

  • DAY on August 14, 2011 9:10 AM:

    "the most far-right candidates wants Americans with less to pay more in taxes."

    Just another example of Class Warfare.

    The Great American Morons vs those of us with triple digit IQ's.

  • Dredd on August 14, 2011 9:12 AM:

    One should wonder about why all these crazies are seeking to be elected at this time.

  • Live Free or Die on August 14, 2011 9:13 AM:

    T-Paw out of race.

  • walt on August 14, 2011 9:14 AM:

    The Battle Cry of the GOP: the rich have suffered enough!

  • Jesus on August 14, 2011 9:14 AM:

    "The poor you will always have to scapegoat."

  • POed Lib on August 14, 2011 9:14 AM:

    I'm willing to make a deal. We can have an AMT for poor people, so that everyone will pay $50. In return, we will 1) end all off-shore tax havens 2) raise the capital gains tax to the level of ordinary income and 3) end the Bush tax cuts for everyone.

  • FRP on August 14, 2011 9:20 AM:

    I have an Idear Tooo !

    If you keep racing that hot rod Lincoln you gonna drive the country over da brink

    As it was in the beginning doesn't have to be forever and ever , Amen

  • Danp on August 14, 2011 9:24 AM:

    2) raise the capital gains tax to the level of ordinary income

    Absolutely. Isn't it enough that you don't have to pay FICA on investment income? And what is the actual effect of the cap gains limit? I would argue that it encourages people to invest in paper rather than producing goods and services, and it creates stock market bubbles. The value simply isn't there to justify stock investments, except for the fact that more money keeps coming in, convinced that the bubble will always keep inflating ("at least in the long term").

  • bob on August 14, 2011 9:25 AM:

    Don't forget that over 20 million Americans are under the age of 14, and almost none of them pay any Federal income tax! It is long past time to put the squeeze on those lucky duckies!

  • SteveT on August 14, 2011 9:26 AM:

    Aren't the Republicans' child tax credits a big reason that so many low or no income people pay no income taxes.

    Just bringing a little sanity to whatever planet Parry ("That's Parry with an 'A') lives on.

  • Kane on August 14, 2011 9:26 AM:

    Strange how the Norquist no-tax pledge only applies when the focus is on taxing the wealthy.

  • stormskies on August 14, 2011 9:31 AM:

    What the fuck we could even tax homeless people who are squatting in the streets receiving hand outs ..

  • DelCapslock on August 14, 2011 9:33 AM:

    We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax. And you know the liberals out there are saying that we need to pay more.

    By "half of all Americans", he means "poor blacks, hispanics, and other undesirables". Well, at least he called them Americans. I suspect that one of the biggest resentments conservatives of Perry's ilk have is having to speak in code to assert their values. In Perry's ideal America, he could come right out and say that rich, white Christians have a rightful place at the top of the social hierarchy, and the rest of us should either be their grateful servants or be sufficiently marginalized as to not present a threat. The next Presidential election is going to be so charged with racial tension that I'm afraid things are going to get violent.

  • AK Liberal on August 14, 2011 9:47 AM:

    Hey, I gotta an idea. Let's help all of those folks that don't pay federal income tax to make more money so that they have to pay federal income tax. We could raise the federal minimum wage to level where they have to pay taxes and they'll more money to by things with, too. I can't wait to send that idea to Gov. Perry. I'm sure that will become a center piece of his economic platform!

  • berttheclock on August 14, 2011 9:59 AM:

    @DAY, your Morons versus Far More Intelligence combat is fine, but, do not forget the words of Adlai Stevenson, who, when, told the Intellectuals were for him, declared, "Fine, but, I need a majority".

  • david1234 on August 14, 2011 9:59 AM:

    To change the law so that more people pay income taxes, you pretty much have to increase taxes for some of those who already pay. So what Perry is proposing is much worse than it looks.

    I am not sure, but I think when the income tax was first introduced, a much lager proportion of the population did not pay it. Perhaps the goal should be to return to that.

  • kevo on August 14, 2011 10:05 AM:

    Perry won't be satisfied until every lemon aid stand on every working class neighborhood corner in American pays its fair share of taxes!

    If Americans elect Rick Perry, they deserve the Robber Baron Rule he'd bring to the WH! -Kevo

  • david1234 on August 14, 2011 10:09 AM:

    I wonder if Obama will think it is OK for Democrats to draw lines in the sand against this idea, or urge them work together with Perry and offer to meet him half way and compromise from there.

  • Kevin Ray on August 14, 2011 10:15 AM:

    I've been wondering about something. We've been hearing this argument for quite a while now, with almost no backlash from the press, or more importantly, the public. Is this another one of those things where a lot of the people that benefit don't even realize they do? You know, like the fact that people with Pell Grants and mortgage deductions think they don't use government programs.
    These folks do pay city and state, not to mention FICA, etc.. Do they think that the folks that don't pay income taxes are those "other" freeloaders they hear so much about?

  • Mxyzptlk on August 14, 2011 10:21 AM:

    Rick Perry: "We're dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don't even pay any income tax."

    Mitt Romney: "Corporations are people, my friend."

    Conclusion: Republicans believe all corporations should pay income taxes. Now that's something I can get behind!

  • berttheclock on August 14, 2011 10:25 AM:

    Well, Kevin Ray, Robert Samuelson, the so-called economist for WaPo, calls the majority of those who collect Social Security checks to be on Welfare, as, he states, they have underfunded their own accounts and the government is carrying them. In fact, my wife had a recent problem with her Social Security account and was told by a SSA worker in the Portland, OR office, she should be greatful for anything she receives from SS, as, the majority of people have never paid enough FICA in the first place. Samuelson has written several columns calling out the Welfareism of Social Security.

  • berttheclock on August 14, 2011 10:27 AM:

    Well, Kevin Ray, Robert Samuelson, the so-called economist for WaPo, calls the majority of those who collect Social Security checks to be on Welfare, as, he states, they have underfunded their own accounts and the government is carrying them. In fact, my wife had a recent problem with her Social Security account and was told by a SSA worker in the Portland, OR office, she should be greatful for anything she receives from SS, as, the majority of people have never paid enough FICA in the first place. Samuelson has written several columns calling out the Welfareism of Social Security.

  • Kevin Ray on August 14, 2011 10:44 AM:

    But what I'm asking is this: is this one of those cases where the folks cheering on Perry don't even realize he's talking about them?

    Also, I'm wondering: could they make the Captcha any harder?

  • KurtRex1453 on August 14, 2011 10:46 AM:

    Yes, but will the Dems attack, and attack and attack.

  • jjm on August 14, 2011 11:04 AM:

    I understand that Rick Perry is universally hated in Texas, and it's bipartisan hatred. I heard the analyst on Maddow saying that the Bushes were against him, along with their fundraisers; that Rove does not back him.

    Yet everywhere I see how he's able to raise tons of money. Is it just his hype being reported as truth?

    Just wondering

  • jrw on August 14, 2011 11:12 AM:

    This meme, the "47% who pay no income tax", is already the favorite slop of blog trolls everywhere, of Limbaugh and his ilk, and, I'll bet anything, of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate. It's being road-tested now to see how it plays, and if it's not called, it will become a campaign staple. Then, Obama can compromise with Republicans on changing that percentage. It'll be great!

  • Grumpy on August 14, 2011 11:16 AM:

    When Perry's predecessor ran for president, the fact that his tax plan zeroed out the liabilities of so many was a selling point. As Steve T says, per-child credits were a big part of that. And the argument against the Bush tax plan was that people would still be paying other taxes. At least Perry is speaking more precisely when he says "income."

  • Kathryn on August 14, 2011 11:27 AM:

    This is a very popular line in conservative world, know I've seen clips from FOX while watching MSNBC touting this "injustice". It's a winner for them. I have yet to hear any progressive media host, Democratic leader/spokesperson deal with it efficiently. Unless it's made clear with numbers, people will fall for it. Spokespeople need to point out the measly amount of income folks are living on to win this one. Such as seniors who earn $20,000 or less do not pay income tax but do pay x% of that income in other taxes giving them $15,000 a year to live on. Want to tax them or hedge fund managers who earn millions/billions and are taxed at 15% while not creating jobs? I highly recommend reading Steven Pearlstein, business writer in Wash Post today Sunday, August 14, 2011 regarding blame for never ending fiscal crises, hint, it's not the poor.

    Captcha for this message is absurdly illegible.

  • ckelly on August 14, 2011 11:30 AM:

    Setting aside the jaw-dropping idiocy of this "position" (which is extremely difficult to do). So, Perry just declared "war" on half of America in his opening campaign speech? Brilliant.

    Craptcha: diationi (die nation?) Type

  • cld on August 14, 2011 11:44 AM:

    This is actually an opening in the social conservative mental problem,

    at some level they do recognize there are a lot of people who don't pay enough taxes.

  • craigie on August 14, 2011 11:54 AM:

    It's really simple:

    In order to motivate the rich, you have to pay them more.

    In order to motivate the poor, you have to pay them less.

  • Old Uncle Dave on August 14, 2011 11:57 AM:

    Lower taxes for banksters, higher taxes for burger flippers. Rick the prick has got a dyslexic Robin Hood thing going.

  • ClearEye on August 14, 2011 12:07 PM:

    Just some fun facts:

    Over the past 30 years, social insurance taxes have risen as income taxes have fallen. The payroll taxes that support Social Security and Medicare are now nearly as large a source of federal revenue (in total amount and as a percentage of GDP) as are personal income taxes. Social insurance taxes fall more heavily on working and middle class people.

    The last budget that George W. Bush left behind forecast that, in FY2011, federal revenues as a percentage of GDP would be over 19%, which would be a lot more than the 14.4% currently expected. That much more revenue would cut the deficit by half and keep total debt in a manageable range for the next decade.

    With a little more magical Texas thinking, GWB brought the budget into balance in FY2012, assuming an economy $2 trillion larger than the one we actually have and an unemployment rate of 4.8%. The last Bush budget was submitted after Lehman Brothers and TARP, and just before Obama was inaugurated.

    Data Source: www.budget.gov, Historical Tables and Past Budgets

  • max on August 14, 2011 1:14 PM:

    God will have His work cut out for him trying to talk to both ventriloquist dummies (Perry and Bachmann) at the same time. When a party's Presidential field is so crazy it makes Romney look like the sane one you know it's in trouble. Fortunately for them half of the polity is gullible and/or crazy.

  • smintheus on August 14, 2011 2:05 PM:

    Fine, let him fix it by proposing ways to create more jobs. Only a little more than 50% of Americans are employed now. Let's also hear how Perry will increase wages for ordinary Americans, so that everybody has to pay more taxes.

  • admadm on August 14, 2011 2:07 PM:

    Y'all are missing the point.

    When Perry/Bachmann/Generic Republican say, “We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” they're not suggesting that taxes should be raised on the working poor.

    They're saying, "How dare you suggest raising taxes on the rich and super-rich when nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax!"

    IOW, it's not a proposed solution. It's a tax-raising cock-block.

    adm

  • Hyde on August 14, 2011 2:27 PM:

    I've been waiting for a think tank, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, or some Republican pol to take rightwing economic theory to its logical conclusion, and argue for the elimination of income taxes for the rich coupled with the imposition of a 100% tax on those in poverty.

    Sales taxes in Texas, by the way, are insanely high. And now Perry thinks the poor don't pay enough??

  • Hannah on August 14, 2011 2:56 PM:

    Counter Perry, et al. with this: "235,413 taxpayers who reported earning seven digits or more in 2009 took in a total of $726.9 billion — yet 1,470 paid NOT A PENNY of income taxes. In 2007, 959 Americans earning $1 million or more paid NO income taxes."

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/60717.html#ixzz1UeajIyW8

  • Anonymous on August 14, 2011 3:08 PM:

  • Quaker in a Basement on August 14, 2011 4:03 PM:

    Most of those in the category, "pay no income tax," have been lending money to the federal government for the last 25 years through increased payroll taxes. Those tax collections were used to buy special treasury bonds to fund the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

    Now, these same GOP candidates who want to tax low-income earners also want to renege on the promise to make good on those bonds. In short, they want to steal the money we've loaned the government and then tax us to make up the difference.

    Class warfare? You got it.

  • Crissa on August 14, 2011 5:28 PM:

    Tax the infirm! Tax the homeless! Make them pay their fair share!

    ...Or something. I remind these people repeatedly the reason half of Americans don't pay income taxes is because they don't have income. Students, retirees, children, the infirm, domestic family members... No income means no income tax.

  • Tea Party Voter on August 14, 2011 6:28 PM:

    I've read all these criticisms of Gov. Perry's plan carefully. You're absolutely right: they're unfair, outrageous, and unprecedented.

    But see, the thing is, we don't care. We do what we want, because none of you liberals ever stands up to us.

  • Amy on August 15, 2011 12:12 AM:

    Everyone should have a fair and equitable tax system...not the monstrosity we have now. Without any skin in the game, those receiving other people's money could care less about the bankrupting of the country. Until....they don't get a check. I believe Perry understands we need to reform the system in a way that brings in more revenue, is less complicated and where everyone has a stake in our country. Fair tax or flat tax would work just fine.

  • Area Man on August 15, 2011 3:26 PM:

    "In case anyone’s forgotten, the relevant details matters here: millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes..."

    A valid point, but the claim is misleading in a more fundamental way. The number has skyrocketed in recent years due to the bad economy and stimulus measures consisting of tax cuts. After the economy improves and the stim measures expire, it will return to about 20-30%, where it was before. If that still seems high, keep in mind that many of these people are students, retired people, etc. who make enough income to file, but not enough owe taxes. Once you subtract these people, you're basically left with only the truly poor who don't have an income tax liability.

    Of course this is all just class warfare to begin with, so it's not like Republicans are going to change their minds if someone sets them straight.

  •  
  •  
  •