On Taxes, Republicans Like Rick Scott Shouldn’t Attack The 47 Percent

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/02/22/on-taxes-republicans-like-rick-scott-shouldnt-attack-the-47-percent/

Remember when Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012 and lost?

What stood out about that campaign?

For many, it’s a comment that Romney made that gave the impression that he did not care about ordinary people.

Romney stated (correctly, as PolitiFact confirmed) that 47 percent of Americans did not pay any federal income tax. But he did so in a callous manner that undoubtedly cost him votes. He wrote them off as a voting constituency, saying that they’d vote for then-president Barack Obama because they expected government handouts. 

Now, U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida) wants to return to that Romney blunder with an absurd idea:  a minimum federal income tax.

Scott released an 11-point plan to “Rescue America” on Tuesday morning. It offers 128 ideas that Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wants to see done if Republicans take back the majority in Congress.

Under “economy and growth,” Scott went full Mitt Romney with one of his ideas. It says, “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

There are a few problems with this awful idea.

Scott wants to raise income taxes on working people and retirees (including many senior citizens) for the heck of it. He doesn’t offer any solid justification for this regressive taxation proposal. 

Aren’t fiscal conservatives supposed to be for lower taxes? If that’s the case, then why would he want to raise taxes on a certain subset of people who are disproportionately on the lower-income side?

Many conservatives want to abolish income tax and believe that it’s theft. That’s a respectable point of view. It’s worthy of discussion and debate.

Yet Scott has decided we don’t need fewer taxpayers — we need more of them. He wants to make it so that certain people have less money to pay bills and make ends meet in life — with no clear reason why they should.

How does that make the country a better place? 

Undoubtedly, some people who don’t pay income tax should pay income tax. If people like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk don’t pay federal income tax because their accountants have figured out how to redefine their wealth as non-income or net-zero income, that’s a problem. However, as residents of the Commonwealth know:  the cost of living in many parts of the country is insane. How is taking money from people who don’t have a lot of it to begin with and giving it to the federal government going to alleviate their problems?

And this misguided tax policy is a political loser if you ask the American people.  In April 2019, a Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans thought that lower-income people paid too much in federal income tax. Meanwhile, 33 percent said they paid their fair share and only 17 percent said they paid too little.

You can say they’re wrong. But that’s apparently what they think. And you’re going to go against them … why?

What would you accomplish?

And what would the slogan be?

“Vote for me!  I’ll tax the poor!”

Now, it so happens that you don’t need to pay federal income tax to contribute to the government’s coffers. The average family pays more in payroll taxes each year than it does in federal income tax, according to the right-leaning Tax Foundation

Scott should know that income tax isn’t the only way governments collect taxes. He was governor of Florida for eight years (2011 to 2019), which lacks a state income tax. Yet Florida’s state government collects plenty.

Whether or not people pay income tax, they have “skin in the game.” 

Many of these people go to work, have families, volunteer in their communities, and live productive lives.  If anything, more people shouldn’t pay federal income tax — and some Republicans agree.

Republicans who support a larger child tax credit or a larger earned-income tax credit don’t want more people paying income tax. The same is also true of the Republicans that want to abolish federal income tax. 

The same year that Romney ran for president while thinking of his fellow Americans as moochers, including the people of Commonwealth he represented as governor for four years (2003 to 2007), he ran in a primary against someone who thought that 53 percent of Americans paid too much in federal income tax:  Ron Paul.  The libertarian Republican is one of the most prominent advocates for abolishing income tax

So no, America shouldn’t have a minimum income tax rate that everyone has to pay. If Senate Republicans want to set up a minimum so that people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos pay federal income taxes, that’s great. But taking money from people who have little to begin with already? Why not just drop out of every swing state and swing district race and endorse the Democrat at that point? 

If Republicans run on this garbage, they will lose — and they will deserve to lose. If a Democrat were to run on it, they would deserve to lose as well.

The tax burden on working people is bad enough already. Don’t make it worse. 

 

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