Monday, September 19, 2011

Republicans’ class warfare

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

It’s a brilliant perversion of language to hear Republicans complaining that President Obama’s jobs plan constitutes class warfare. I make no commentary about Obama’s plan, though, as with most of what the president has done, it’s probably too little to matter and I’m sure he’ll end up capitulating on whatever minor improvements the plan may contain anyways.

However, GOP complaints are the height of hypocrisy. From demanding cuts to Medicare and Social Security in order to extend tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires (who already pay lower tax rates than the working class) to taking money away from ordinary working Americans to subsidize the recklessness of bankers and other financial institutions, the entire Republican economic agenda is based on class warfare. Privatize corporate profits, socialize the losses.

A result of Republican warfare against people who work for a living? The Census Bureau reported that more Americans are living in poverty than in any time in the 52 years they’ve been keeping such statistics.

It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period [since 1999].


Paul said...

"who already pay lower tax rates than the working class"

All the rest of what you say may have some truth. But this line above is inaccurate. See this NYT article for some correct facts:

Brian said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Though I suspect the rich pay less in total tax than the working class, thanks to exemptions, creative accounting, etc.

Paul said...

Brian, We have a progressive system. As your income increases your tax rate increases with the highest "rates" being paid by the highest income earners.

What I think you are trying to get at is "taxes paid".

The big example these days is Warren Buffet and his assistant. He paid a lot more taxes than she did but he paid a smaller percentage of his income last year than she did. Yes, much of that is thanks to the tax code. But even if he paid a lower capital gains rate, which is probably where much of his "income" comes from he already paid income taxes on the money that he used to purchase those investments that he then sold and was subject to capital gains tax on. It is pretty complicated but in the end he is probably paying a larger percentage of his income in taxes over the long term. Many people feel that he should be paying an even higher rate. That is a fair question.

"I suspect the rich pay less in total tax than the working class"

No this isn't the case. Look at the data again. The top quartiles pay the largest percentage in total taxes. They do that because they also make a large proportion of the income, but your suspicion is still incorrect.

Paul said...

As you can see from the NYT data the highest quartile pays about 70% of the total tax liability. All the other quartiles combined pay the remaining 30%.

Paul said...

Sorry I should say quintiles. It is broken into 5 groups.