Forty-seven percent of American households pay no federal income tax at all, points out the Tax Foundation, and the IRS hands out more than $70 billion in refundable tax credits. Washington also spends hundreds of billions a year on social safety-net programs that benefit persons who pay little or no federal income tax. Entitlement spending constitutes the single largest category of federal outlays (which is precisely the reason Ryan has taken it on). You can say this massive transfer of wealth is good, or you can say it is bad. What you cannot do is pretend that the transfer has not taken place.
In this light, to speak of Ryan’s proposal as transferring wealth to the wealthy borders on the mendacious. If Fred pays $100 in taxes, and Mortimer pays nothing while collecting $25 out of Fred’s tax payment, then it is fatuous to say lowering both Fred’s tax bill and Mortimer’s benefit check by $10 is “taking money away from Mortimer and giving it to Fred.” That is not what is going on at all. The government is still doing just what it was doing before—taking money from Fred and giving it to Mortimer—only to a lesser degree.
And yet progressives insist on pretending otherwise, again and again.
Look at how proposals to extend the Bush tax cuts were described in December: as a “giveaway to the very wealthiest” (Sen. Kent Conrad); a “huge giveaway to the super-rich” (Rep. Jim McDermott); “unconscionable . . . giveaways for our country’s wealthiest” (AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka); a “windfall” (the Los Angeles Times); “giving more money to those least likely to spend it” (The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus); and so on.
Talk of this sort makes sense only if you assume that all money belongs to the government, which then spreads the wealth around in whatever manner it deems appropriate. The same assumption explains how pundits can speak of tax cuts “costing” X or Y billion dollars, in the same way a grocer’s accountant might speak of a sale on oranges costing the grocer revenue. From the perspective of the taxpayer, tax cuts, like sales on oranges, do not cost money—they save money. Those who speak of tax cuts costing money reveal whose side they are on.
I’m not exactly sure how it is that one can base their political identity off of the perceived righteousness of envy.
2011-04-08 » madlibertarianguy