Last month, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore explicitly called for raising taxes on the poorest Americans in order to finance tax cuts for the rich. And he is not the only member of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire that thinks taxes need to be cut for the rich but increased for the poor.
As I noted yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief economist, Martin Regalia, said that allowing the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans to expire would be “a bullet in the head for an awful lot of people.” Fox News’ Bill Hemmer decided to run a segment on the comments, where Fox Business’ Eric Bolling agreed that having the rich pay the same rates that they paid under President Clinton would somehow doom the economy. But he then went on to complain that “unfortunately” 47 percent of households “don’t pay a dime in federal income tax”:
HEMMER: A bullet in the head? Is that what tax increases do?
BOLLING: Sure. If we do have an economic recovery from this massive recession we’ve been in, it will be the bullet in the head to the economic recovery because this will be the biggest, by far, tax increase that America’s ever seen, coming at absolutely the worst time. As it is Bill, they’re going to say, ‘well it’s only for the rich.” This will trickle down to every human being who pays taxes. Unfortunately, there’s only about, I don’t know, 53 percent of American households who pay federal income tax, the other 47 percent don’t pay a dime in federal income tax.
If Bolling thinks its unfortunate that so many people have no federal income tax liability, is he calling for raising their taxes? Moments after saying that its “absolutely the worst time” to raise taxes on the rich? And agreeing that tax increases amount to “a bullet in the head?”
The reason that so many people have no federal income tax liability is that “their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability.” 6 out of 10 non-payers have incomes of less than $20,000, and more than two-thirds of those who pay no federal income tax do pay federal payroll taxes. And, of course, they pay state and local taxes, including more regressive local sales taxes.
Plus, the fact that so many have no federal tax liability is a reflection of how much income is concentrated in the hands of the rich. The richest one percent of Americans currently make nearly 25 percent of the country’s income.
Extending the tax cuts for the rich — which costs $830 billion over ten years and $36 billion next year alone — is the least efficient way to boost the economy via tax policy. And as the record of the Bush administration shows, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans do not trickle down to everyone else. So let’s call this segment what it was: shilling for the rich while pushing higher taxes for the poor.