Two pithy quotes from the WS JOURNAL letters

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 7 Comments

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Two wonderful, short quotes from two of today’s WS JOURNAL letters to the editor — in response to a guest op-ed from a liberal economics professor defending the progressive tax system against calls for a flat tax:

1. [From a businessman] “Prof. Blinder, having spent his entire working life signing the back of a paycheck instead of the front . . . .”

2. [Dealing with the inequity of half the people not paying income tax, but getting an equal vote when it comes to subsidies] “The original Tea Party responded to taxation without representation. Today’s tea party takes to task representation without taxation.”

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/letters.html

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Comments 7

  1. Anyone with a job pays Federal taxes in the form of Social Security and Medicare. Anyone that drives pays Federal gasoline taxes.

    As to the question of Federal INCOME taxes, the standard deduction was put in place so that individuals could pay for the necessities of life before having any of their income taxed by Uncle Sam. I too am concerned that barely half of all Americans pay any Federal INCOME tax; I am concerned that barely half of all Americans are earning enough to pay for the necessities of life.

  2. Alger,
    You know better than to claim that “barely half of all Americans are earning enough to pay for the necessities of life”. Do a little contemplation before throwing out such an unsubstantiated claim.

    The American poor have a standard of living that would be the envy of much of the world, especially those truly living at the subsistence level.

  3. Post
    Author

    Alger, it’s always fun to hear from you.

    Most people who don’t pay federal income tax do so NOT because of the standard deduction, but rather because of various income tax credit subsidies — notably the EITC credit which pays them up to THOUSANDS of dollars. It’s not just that they don’t PAY the income tax — they are DIRECT profiteers off the income tax! Naturally their (shortsighted) economic interest is in taxing the “wealthy” more while bumping up their profit on EITC, food stamps, etc.

    See my blog post on why a family of 3 with one minimum wage job ($14,500 minimum federal wage) can be as well or BETTER off than if they were making $60K a year.
    http://open.salon.com/blog/richard_rider/2011/01/12/when_145k_minimum_wage_60k_salary

  4. Richard,

    You make a good point about the EITC, but in doing so you also help reinforce my main concern that each year we have fewer people EARNING ENOUGH to qualify for the minimum income tax bracket. I would hope that the loss of the middle-class would terrify you.

  5. Bradley,

    What should be considered a necessity is certainly debatable, but the reason for a standard deduction was so that no one pays taxes until those necessities are taken care of.

    As to contention that our poor are better off than the poor ( and maybe even the not-so-poor) in other countries, you are undoubtedly correct. However, I have never been satisfied with the thought that the United States was simply better than some other country and I am sure you haven’t either.

  6. Post
    Author

    Alger, we keep redefining who should pay income tax. By raising the bar, it APPEARS that more don’t earn enough to pay the tax, but in reality many are simply newly REMOVED from the tax roles with their present incomes.

    The threshold is NOT static. Quite the contrary.

    The biggest threat to the middle class is the growth of one parent households. That’s been the biggest single factor in the drop of middle income “family” income. Two incomes are better than one.

  7. Richard,

    When I was growing up, we lived a comfortable middle-class lifestyle on just what my father earned. I make more than he ever could have imagined making and my wife still has to work to support our middle-class lifestyle. You are correct that two earners are better than one, but it wasn’t always necessary.lk

    Any statistical analysis will show that the very top earners have seen their incomes increase greatly over the last few decades while everyone else’s wages have stagnated. Also, our federal tax rate on the highest income is the lowest it has been in a half-century. I don’t think either of those facts are positive signs.

    All that being said, I do agree with the premise that everyone needs to take ownership of our government and that means paying something in federal income tax even if it is less than one percent.

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