August 04, 2011
Last week, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders penned an unintentionally
hilarious op-ed for The Wall Street
Capitol Hill’s only
admitted socialist stuffed his piece with the bromides leftists employ to
demonize their political and ideological opponents. “Republicans in Congress,”
wrote the Green Mountain State Looney
Tune, “have been fanatically determined to protect the interests of the wealthy
and large multinational corporations so that they do not contribute a single
penny toward deficit reduction.” If those nefarious GOPers prevail, the fedpol
thundered, “the entire burden of deficit reduction will be placed on the
elderly, the sick, children and working families.”
Batty Bernie’s claims are easily belied. In a July blog posting
for Forbes, the Heartland Institute’s
Peter Ferrara explained that in 2007, “the top 1 percent of income earners paid
more in federal income taxes than the bottom 95 percent combined.” In a recent
floor speech, U.S. Sen. John Coryn (R-TX) noted that “51 percent -- that is, a
majority of American households -- paid no income tax in 2009. … 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.”
Right-leaning pols, writers, and talk-show pundits skillfully skewer
liberals’ specious, single-minded crusade to finger “the rich” for all of
society’s woes. But they’re far less adept at turning the tables on class
Imagine an alternate universe where leftists care more about providing
relief from the levies that disproportionately harm the poor and middle class
than finding new and creative ways to punish the affluent. The first place
tax-cutters would start is at the local-government level. Randal O’Toole has
developed the concept of the “planning tax.” For those looking to achieve a
piece of the American Dream, the Cato Institute scholar has found, “growth-management
tools such as urban-growth boundaries, adequate-public-facilities ordinances,
and growth limits all drive up the cost of housing” by an average of $130,000.
Once a home is purchased, unsuspecting owners learn that their
property-tax burden never grows lighter. Personnel -- cops, firemen, teachers, etc.
-- represent the bulk of municipal spending, and data show that state- and local-government
employees are compensated at a rate 44.3 percent higher than private-sector
workers. This outrageous disparity is the prime cause of runaway property taxes.
Interest exhibited by “progressives” in homeowners’ most-hated tax? Zero.
Energy taxes are another target-rich source of revenue that
offers opportunities to lighten the load for the little people. Extra charges
on ratepayers’ bills fund a panoply of corporate welfare for the “green”
sector. Yet it’s usually the well-to-do who avail themselves of heavily
subsidized solar panels. Out on the road, the federal gasoline tax is 18.4¢.
Yet the Highway
Trust Fund is looted by “mass transit” and other social-engineering schemes.
With research showing that obtaining
a car can be a more useful means to secure employment than completing a GED,
it’s essential to reduce a tax that not only drives up the cost of motoring,
but is used to fund projects that have nothing to do with fighting traffic
In the words of economist Gerald Prante, “no other federal
tax hurts the poor more than the cigarette tax.” Washington’s cigarette tax is $1.01 --
President Obama signed a 62¢ hike immediately after taking office -- and some
state-level taxes exceed $2.00.
A 2007 study by the
National Center for Policy Analysis reported that just under “29 percent of
adults with incomes of less than $15,000 are smokers; by contrast, only 17.2
percent of people with incomes higher than $50,000 smoke.” The disparity is
greater in education, with almost 40 percent of GED-earners smoking, compared
to 8 percent of people with a graduate degree.
Finally, the payroll tax assaults the not-so-loaded worst of
all. The Tax
Policy Center documented that among working households, “86 percent have
higher payroll taxes than income taxes, including almost all of those with incomes
less than $40,000 and 94 percent of those with incomes less than $100,000.”
Privatization of the soon-to-be-insolvent Social Security system would put more
money in the pockets of the masses, and allow everyone to join the investor
However fun it is to play what-if, here on this plane of
existence, liberals don’t care about cutting taxes for anyone. So there’s no chance that they’ll target the levies that hammer
the nation’s regular folks. That job is for scholars, activists, and elected
officials who leftists malign as mouthpieces for the plutocracy.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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