And this isn't an isolated instance of the GOP breaking from its usual anti-tax orthodoxy. The truth is that many leading Republicans yearn to raise taxes on working-class and poor Americans.
"We're dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don't even pay any income tax," Texas Gov. Rick Perry intoned last month when announcing for president. What to do? Here's Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann: "We need to broaden the base so that everybody pays something, even if it's a dollar." More recently, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman approvingly cited Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as saying we don't have enough people paying taxes in this country. The GOP as stalwart fighters against taxes? No more. That more Americans should pay taxes is, according to the Wall Street Journal, "the new Republican orthodoxy."
And who is it Republicans would like to raise taxes upon? According to the Tax Policy Center, 46 percent of U.S. households won't pay income taxes this year. The elderly (who are mostly retired, have a larger deduction, and often don't have their Social Security benefits taxed) make up a plurality of 44 percent of the nonpayers, while people whose income tax liability is wiped out by the child tax credit, child and dependent care tax credit, and the earned income tax credit—all of which were enacted with Republican support—make up an additional 30 percent of the group. (The rest of the nonpayers get a handful of smaller tax credits, including education credits, itemized deductions, and even capital gains benefits.)
Keep in mind that these people not having any income tax liability does not mean that they don't pay taxes (as is often implied in GOP talking points). They pay state and local taxes, not to mention federal payroll taxes, which of course the GOP wants to see rise.
So Republicans worry about the wealthy paying too much in taxes while fretting about freeloading lower classes. They talk a big deficit game but are more concerned about cutting government spending, specifically on programs that benefit the nonrich. Perhaps this isn't cognitive dissonance but the logical evolution of the modern GOP into an Ayn Rand-ian coalition explicitly focused on freeing a wealthy elite from the parasitical depredations of everyone else.
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