But the truth is that they do think we need to raise taxes on the poor and elderly. They've all jumped on the fact that about 50% of Americans don't pay any federal income tax. Here's how Ezra Klein describes that.
A new report from the Tax Policy Center breaks it down. In 2011, about 46 percent of households won’t pay income taxes. For about half of them, the standard provisions of the income tax wiped out their liability. If you don’t make any money but you take a standard deduction and have a few dependents, you’re not going to pay any income tax. Roberton Williams, one of the report’s authors, gives the example of “a couple with two children earning less than $26,400. They get an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700, and that takes their liability to zero. As he says, “the basic structure of the income tax simply exempts subsistence levels of income from tax.”
In addition to standard deductions, this is a result of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the fact that Social Security benefits are exempted. Oh, and of course there's that 9% who are currently unemployed. As a matter of fact:
Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. households who pay no federal income taxes earn less than $30,000, Williams' research has found.
The Republicans don't like this one bit! Here's what they're saying:
Rep. Eric Cantor
Cantor rejected increasing tax rates. But he acknowledged the need for a "pro-growth tax proposal" that would eliminate some special interest tax deductions and loopholes to modestly increase revenue.
"We also have a situation in this country where you're nearing 50 percent of people who don't even pay income taxes," he said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, has been making the argument in a different way, pushing a recent report that 51 percent of Americans don’t pay any income taxes. To Hatch and his Republican colleagues, the report is perfect evidence that the rich already pay too much in taxes. The answer to that problem, as Hatch explained on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown today, is to revamp the tax code in order to make middle- and lower-class Americans pay their fair share.
Sen. John Cornyn
"Let's talk about federal tax reform," he said, referring to suggestions that a restructuring of the tax code could emerge from bipartisan negotiations over extending the federal government’s ability to borrow money. "There has been a lot of discussion about that, where we want to take the tax code with all of its multiple provisions and get it on the table and take a look at it to make sure it is, in my view, flatter, fairer and simpler.
"But right now, the fact (is) that according to the Committee on Joint Taxation, 51 percent -- that is, a majority of American households -- paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada. … Actually, to show how out of whack things have gotten, 30 percent of American households actually made money from the tax system by way of refundable tax credits -- the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others. So 51 percent of American households paid no income tax in 2009, but 30 percent actually made money under the current system."
And now for the Presidential candidates:
Rep. Michelle Bachmann
Her main goal is to get tax rates down with a broad-based income tax that everyone pays and that “gets rid of all the deductions.” A system in which 47% of Americans don’t pay any tax is ruinous for a democracy, she says, “because there is no tie to the government benefits that people demand. I think everyone should have to pay something.”
Gov. Rick Perry
“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.”
An injustice I tell ya!!!! And notice the "we" Gov. Perry identifies with - the wealthy folks that liberals want to tax more.
At an appearance at the Iowa State Fair today, Mitt Romney was asked whether he would support raising the income cap on Social Security taxes (currently set at $106,800) as a way to help make the system fiscally sound.
“You know, there was a time in this country that we didn’t celebrate attacking people based on their success and when we didn’t go after people because they were successful.”...
The question itself didn’t “celebrate attacking people based on their success,” but the former Massachusetts governor quickly twisted it into that shape. Later in his response in what became a heated exchange, Romney claimed that 50 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes.
I have to wonder: Is that a case of attacking people based on their lack of success?
So lets just be clear about this. The Republicans are not against raising taxes. They'd be perfectly happy to do so for the poor and elderly.