Our noble and wise betters today put forth this nugget of wisdom, in the form of an editorial. You see, it is apparent to the NYT's editors that all Republican candidates hate the poor and want to destroy them. It's all there for those who choose to see, so long as you have your tinfoil helmet and liberal secret decoder ring.
'Puter apologizes to the NYT for lifting so much of their editorial from behind the paywall, but he payed for it, and it's fair use, so the NYT can go pound sand.
The NYT begins:
These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December.'Puter's fairly certain the NYT's editors made this up based on their fantasies of what conservatives think when they are assembled in their unholy covens. Or at church. Or wherever those freak shows congregate. The editors don't know because they've never met any.
Conservatives are not offended by the idea that people making $40,000 per year for a family may benefit from lower tax rates than those earning more. Conservatives are offended by the notion that tax revenues disproportionately are spent on a group that pays exactly nothing for their own upkeep. This despite the fact that many are able bodied people who have not done what they need to do to be employable. That is, many have foregone education, refused to marry, got knocked up or did the knocking up once or more before they turned 18, tattooed their faces, broke the law and were imprisoned, etc. In general, many of the poor have shown no loyalty to those who provide them their sustenance. And a darned fine sustenance at that.
Further, the payroll tax cut absolutely screw America going forward. Since Congress already spent all the money collected for Social Security on other needs, like honeybee farming and gang tattoo removal, every penny that is collected goes to pay current retirees. In fact, there are so many retirees and so few workers now that the government is actually borrowing money on top of tax collections to meet the demand. On that ground alone, the payroll tax cut is self defeating. It would be more logically consistent to raise the income cap and means test the benefits, but that won't happen anytime soon. In the meantime, best just to call Republicans heartless bastards who want to fuel their money-making machines with bodies of the poor they starve to death by cutting their unearned government benefits.
The NYT's editors continue:
Representative Michele Bachmann noted recently that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax; all of them, she said, should pay something because they benefit from parks, roads and national security. (Interesting that she acknowledged government has a purpose.) Gov. Rick Perry, in the announcement of his candidacy, said he was dismayed at the “injustice” that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. Jon Huntsman Jr., up to now the most reasonable in the Republican presidential field, said not enough Americans pay tax.Wow. That's just crazy. You mean there might be a problem where people contribute nothing to society in tax, yet get to vote themselves benefits? That's crazy talk! Absolutely insane! Next these crazies will be talking about such controversial notions as the tragedy of the commons (no one ever washes a rental car) and Sen. Daniel Moynihan's completely vindicated The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (which we now know applies equally to any race that comes into contact with our welfare system).
Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and several senators have made similar arguments, variations of the idea expressed earlier by Senator Dan Coats of Indiana that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”
'Puter would be greatly pleased if the his intellectual superiors at the NYT would explain to him why it makes sense to let benefit recipients vote on the level of benefits others are forced at gunpoint to provide. To simple 'Puter, it would seem to make more sense that if you were dependent on the largesse of others for your personal sustenance, you should have no say in how much or how the others provide said benefits. If you don't like it, change what you're doing. Saying it's hard and whining is not an answer either.
The NYT attempts to justify itself in the following paragraphs:
This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010.The NYT's factual explanation does not address what they themselves portray as the Republicans' position. That is, 47% of Americans pay no income tax, and everyone should pay something. Is that really so controversial, the notion that there is no such thing as a free lunch? What's wrong with every household no matter income level being required to file an annual return that includes not only earned income, but also lists the total value of all government benefits received? Further, what's wrong with every adult paying a minimum of $1.00 per year in income tax? This would be share sacrifice. And it is this notion that the people caterwauling the loudest for more tax expenditures are those who contribute no tax revenues that results in the Republicans' current income tax position.
The moral argument would have been obvious before this polarized year. Nearly 90 percent of the families that paid no income tax make less than $40,000, most much less. The real problem is that so many Americans are struggling on such a small income, not whether they pay taxes. The two tax credits lifted 7.2 million people out of poverty in 2009, including four million children. At a time when high-income households are paying their lowest share of federal taxes in decades, when corporations frequently avoid paying any tax, it is clear who should bear a larger burden and who should not.
Now, on to the NYT's specific allegations.
If 14% of households pay no income or payroll taxes, assuming an equal distribution of Americans per household, that's around 42 million people, which is probably why the NYT chose to use percentages rather than actual numbers. 42 million is a whole lot of freeloaders. Why shouldn't these people pay something, even a de minimis amount, in return for their upkeep? We will never know, because the NYT will never ask or answer that question.
The notion that the "poor" pay gas taxes, state taxes and local taxes is irrelevant. For paying their other taxes as legally assessed against them, 'Puter offers the NYT-defended poor a hearty "thank you for doing your job like the rest of us." 'Puter's glad at least someone thinks it necessary to attempt to spread the burden as widely as possible. The question is federal income tax, not state, local, planetary or galactic taxes. Whether or not the so-called poor pay other taxes has no bearing on either ability to pay federal income taxes, or the fairness of so requiring.
Puter's already dealt with the red herring payroll tax issue. See above.
This leaves only only the one fifth who pay 16.3% of taxes. In fact, the lower fifth of taxpayers actually net more through credits such as the EITC than they pay in tax, so in effect they pay nothing. So shut up, NYT.
Bravely onward to the NYT's claim of moral superiority.
'Puter is sorry that some people make less than $40,000 per year. He wishes everyone could have XBoxes and iPhones and weekend homes in the Hamptons. Unicorns and rainbows, too. But we can't all have those things, only the NYT editors. There's not enough to go around. And no amount of wishful thinking or preachy moralizing is going to change the facts. As Bruce Springsteen once said, "[You] don't work and [you] don't get paid."
And there's the NYT's fundamental disconnect. The NYT views income disparity as a cause, rather than as the symptom it is. Why does the lower class make less than everyone else? It's fairly clear if you choose to look critically at the data. Most of the poor are uneducated, and the jobs that the uneducated used to fill have increasingly become automated or outsourced. If you'd like to talk about fixing education in the inner cities through a combination of increased pay for good teachers based on student performance, union busting and rigid discipline of students, then 'Puter's willing to listen and pay. Dumping money onto people who have shown no indication they are able to make good life choices is stupid and self defeating. If nothing else, 40 plus years of failed Great Society programs have given proof to 'Puter's position.
Some of the poor have drug and alcohol problems, and this is a personal choice which 'Puter should not have to subsidize. If you want to institutionalize them, fine, he'll pay. If you want 'Puter to pay for them to live on their own and continue their self-destructive behavior, no dice. 'Puter'd love to drink and drug himself into a nice mellow haze all day, and drift through life on someone else's dime. Unfortunately, 'Puter is not a Kennedy. And 'Puter has too much self-respect to force others to subsidize such behavior on his part. We've paid drug addicts for not changing, and we get more of them. All this must seem baffling to the NYT.
As to the truly disabled, no one disputes that we should pay for them. Maybe the NYT has access to some secret videotape showing Republicans cackling over the prospect of throwing the profoundly retarded out on the street, but 'Puter's not aware of any.
Corporations and rich folks are the last refuge of the scoundrel. Look at all the corporate entities that don't pay much of anything by way of taxes. GE's CEO is an Obama supporter. Jamie Dimon of Chase was an Obama supporter. Steve Jobs loves our President. If Warren Buffet was any more up Obama's rear end, he'd be wearing him as a suit. Hell, rich folks overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Democrats are disproportionately represented among the rich and the poor. It's the folks in the middle who work for a living that vote Republican. So, NYT, get off your "it's all the Republicans' fault" diatribe. It's factually and morally inaccurate.
Finally, the NYT editors choose to ignore the moral obligation of the poor to the taxpayer. The poor have a moral obligation to do everything int heir power to escape poverty. That includes but is not limited to: looking for a job, getting educated, not having children out of wedlock, avoiding drug and alcohol abuse, behaving within societal norms, snitching on criminals, disciplining their children and obeying the law and law officers generally. That's not a whole lot to ask, but an entire section of our society has determined that working is for suckers, because they can get the taxpayers to pay for their perpetual adolescence.
Put simply, the NYT's position is that favored victim classes are owed government payoffs with no concomitant duty. It is this type of thinking that has cratered our nation both morally and financially. 'Puter hopes that as a result of this Great Recession, such thinking will finally and permanently be discredited. But 'Puter's faint hopes are likely to be dashed, for wherever Ivy league grads and college faculties gather, such discredited ideas have a way of holding on against all reason.