Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) jumped into the GOP presidential primary on Saturday, touting the largely-mythical “Texas miracle” to boost his economic bona fides. “We have led Texas based on some just really pretty simple guiding principles. One is don’t spend all of the money. Two is keeping the taxes low and under control,” Perry said during his announcement speech.
In fact, tax cuts were a constant theme during the speech. “We need lower taxes,” Perry said, later adding that “it is time to limit and simplify the taxes in this country.” However, it seems that Perry wants to raise taxes on at least one population — the working poor, seniors, and students who currently have no federal income tax liability:
We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax. And you know the liberals out there are saying that we need to pay more. We are indignant about leaders who do not listen and spend money faster than they can print it.
It’s certainly true that nearly half of Americans don’t have any federal income tax liability, but a large portion of that population pays federal payroll and excise taxes, as well as state and local taxes, which fall much harder on the middle-class and low-income individuals than those at the upper end of the income scale. The simple fact is that they don’t make enough money to have to qualify for even the lowest federal income tax bracket.
Overall, less than a quarter of the nation’s households don’t contribute to federal tax receipts — and the majority of the non-contributors are students, the elderly, or the unemployed. Does Perry believe that these people are really undertaxed?
At the same time that Perry is crying foul over the poor and the elderly paying too little in taxes, income inequality in the country has skyrocketed. Just the richest 400 Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans combined, and the richest 10 percent of Americans control two-thirds of the country’s net worth. But its low tax rates at the bottom of the income scale that have Perry all riled up.