Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) dusted off one of his favorite talking points on the Senate floor today, calling on the poor and the middle class to shoulder more of the pain of deficit reduction because they don’t pay enough in taxes. After the Senate considered a Sense of the Senate stating that “any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort,” Hatch took to the floor to defend rich taxpayers, whose tax rates are at modern lows thanks to the Bush tax cuts.
Hatch complained that 51 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes and hinted that what the poor and middle class pay in payroll taxes doesn’t count as a contribution since it goes toward Social Security:
HATCH: I hear how they’re [Democrats] so caring for the poor and so forth. The poor need jobs! And they also need to share some of the responsibility. Now we don’t want the really poor people who are in poverty to pay income taxes. But 51 percent of all households? And that’s going up by the way because of our friend down in the White House and his allies.
As ThinkProgress noted during Hatch’s original rant on this subject in May, when he said the poor and middle class needed to shoulder a bigger part of the tax burden, the 51 percent Hatch cites is made up primarily of people who either don’t have income (senior citizens and students) or people who don’t earn enough to reach into even the lowest tax bracket. And regardless of what Hatch says, they do pay taxes.
Hatch’s position couldn’t be clearer: as the amount of wealth further concentrates toward the top and as those people pay record-low tax rates, it’s the working poor who need to shoulder the brunt of the recession’s pain.