Monday, February 02, 2009

Do Any Democrats Pay Taxes?

An unfair assertion for sure, but this is getting ludicrous. The Washington Post writes:
After a quarter-century in Congress, Thomas A. Daschle will return to Capitol Hill today in an unfamiliar role, summoned by former colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to defend his reputation and his nomination to be secretary of health and human services amid revelations that he did not pay more than $100,000 in back taxes.

Well known and generally well liked in Washington, Daschle was expected to be one of President Obama's first Cabinet secretaries to be confirmed. His preliminary hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was so upbeat that Republicans praised his selection.
Timothy Geithner, Obama’s economic wiz kid failed to see a reason to pay his taxes while pulling in rather opulent wages. Liberal firebrand Chuck Rangel also used some clever bookwork to avoid paying his share.

Now finding a politician that is a cheat is an effortless task, and it would likely be easy to find Republicans doing the very same thing as all of these Democrats. But when Democrats, especially the variety that continuously beat the populist drum concerning the rich not “paying their share,” it reeks of stank hypocrisy that an office holder could so unmistakably work around the progressive tax system that they themselves so ferociously advocate.

The problem is larger than a few corrupt politicians. While I am a supporter of the progressive income tax system, and believe that a higher burden should be placed on those that make more money, watching activists and young people (most of whom fall into a tax bracket that pays little to no income tax) argue that the rich should pay more taxes (as if higher taxation on the wealthy is the answer to all questions), is a laughable thing to behold. Stephen Moore, a man who knows more about taxes than I do, writes:
The latest data show that a big portion of the federal income tax burden is shoul¬dered by a small group of the very richest Americans. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per¬cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent—those below the median income level—now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. These are proportions of the income tax alone and don’t include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare.”

Advocating for increased taxes when you won’t have to pay them seems like a cheap political and moral stance to take. One can make the argument that we, as a nation, must all pitch in more to make for a stronger and better union. Libertarians may disagree with that declaration, but at least it is asking all American’s to make a sacrifice for a better good. Just asking a select group to shoulder the burden of the state is just shameless buck passing.

So to Democrats great and small: pay your taxes, or shut your lips. You don’t have to become Objectivists, but at least match your rhetoric to actions.


Peter Stanton said...

I pay my taxes... of course I'm young enough so that the majority of my income comes from Alaska dividends, and I'm too young to be a Democrat, not that I necessarily want to be.

That aside, I hope you weren't intending to somehow build sympathy for the rich with the data on how they fund such a large portion of the nation's income. It's one thing to look at the difference between the blue and brown bars in each category, but just look at the brown ones and you'll see the real injustice here.

Think about it - the bottom 50% of people in U.S. earns 13% of the income. The top 1% gets almost 150% more money than the bottom half!

I very much would like to see a day where there is little difference between what Americans pay in income taxes. That will be a day when people earn a living based on the true value of their work, not based on the vast inequalities and injustices that pervade our current system.

Roland Dodds said...


I'm surely not looking to provide sympathy for those on the top. I think making the income that the top percents do justifies a high level of taxes.

What I have a problem with is half assed populism. When people call for more national unity by saying others should shoulder the burden, I can’t help but see that as an attempt to place responsibility for a making a better community on the feet of someone else.

Which is why I often roll my eyes at student protesters; they can comfortably demand that taxes or fees be increased since they generally are not shouldering the burden. I saw the affect student voters had on a community when I lived and worked in Santa Cruz. The city is notoriously expensive, and the high taxes on those who live there are pretty ridiculous. It doesn’t stop with the rich either; the funding student voters demand from the local population that does pay taxes are difficult for working families to deal with.

None of this makes the necessity of a progressive tax system immaterial, but it does make some of those demanding it sound hollow. All those who call for sacrifice should be willing to make them as well is what I am basically getting at.

When there are calls for unity, everyone should be willing to sacrifice for it, and not assume that “taxing the rich” will provide that national unison.

TNC said...

Peter writes:

“I very much would like to see a day where there is little difference between what Americans pay in income taxes. That will be a day when people earn a living based on the true value of their work, not based on the vast inequalities and injustices that pervade our current system.”

You come across as a well-meaning and inquisitive dude but one who has not lived very far or wide from your home. What I mean is you have not come face-to-face with how brutal, unfair, and ultimately unequal the world is. Whether you believe in the almighty, natural selection, or some hybrid of the two, life is not equal. It never has been, it never will. Ever.

That does not mean we cannot or should not strive to make the world a better place. I think that is necessary to move ourselves as individuals (and collectively) forward. But the effort to enforce equality ultimately leads to mediocrity at best. A society that admires diversity, that acknowledges difference, and ultimately that values greatness, will always allow for some inequality.