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... But One Life to Give the IRS
By David Harsanyi
The Boston Tea Party be damned. This week, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden unleashed the most absurd remark of his illustrious career, claiming that taxes are "patriotic."
Biden claims that wealthier Americans should pay more in taxes because "it's time to be patriotic ... time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."
Oh, the injustice of American society!
When, exactly, did taxation transform into a form of charity? Biden, it seems, has a difficult time differentiating between coercion and generosity. The distinction is simple: When one fails at altruism, he is a louse; when one fails to pay taxes, he ends up in the slammer.
But anyone can "jump in" at any time. Biden and his wife -- who would be considered wealthy under an Obama-Biden tax plan -- for instance, gave an average of $369 a year to charity during the past decade. So you can see that by "help," Biden means assistance with your money.
Have you ever wondered when exactly taxation became a tool for mass redistribution of wealth?
"We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden explained in an interview on "Good Morning America." The wealthy, last I heard, do not "take" or steal from the defenseless middle class; they, most often, earn their money. There is nothing to give back.
Moreover, the very premise of Biden's argument is a rickety mess.
The rich already shell out their share. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the top 10 percent of households pay roughly 70 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 5 percent pay more than 60 percent of all taxes. The top 1 percent? They pay nearly 40 percent of all income taxes. Sounds like an unfair share to me.
Biden also errs in advancing the notion that higher rates always translate into a larger percentage of tax revenues. In 1980, when the top income tax rate was at 70 percent, the share of income taxes paid by the top 1 percent was less than 20 percent. Since we've cut top rates for the wealthy, that number has increased steadily.
Setting aside the crass election-time populism of Biden, is there anyone who believes shrinking the tax base and hanging the cost of massive government on a slither of the nation's citizens is a sustainable solution?
How much does Biden expect the rich to "jump in" with, exactly? What is the acceptable percentage? Should the wealthy hand over 80 percent? Or is it 100 percent?
It's difficult to grasp.
Barack Obama, for instance, claims that his tax policy would bring relief to 95 percent of Americans. Yet a report from the Tax Foundation tells us that 32.58 percent of IRS income tax returns for 2005 were "non-paying" and that the bottom 5 percent of earners contributed only 3 percent of all income taxes. That means many households don't pay a penny in income taxes.
Now, even a transcendent candidate of Obama's breathtaking magnitude can't make a whole into something larger than 100 percent.
His plan also fails to account for the pass-through costs. When government raises corporate taxes and energy taxes and capital gains taxes, etc., the consumer, the investor, the middle-class citizenry foots the bill.
As if more government spending is a way to get us out of a "rut."
Punishing those selfish fat cats who dare to succeed, which includes many small-business owners, is a sure way to stifle growth and job creation. Perhaps it can help win an election, but it has nothing to do with patriotism.
Sure, candidates can debate tax policy and quarrel over which tax percentage is optimal. But patriotism is a devoted love, support and defense of one's country.
It's not a love of policy or the politicians who happen to be running the country right now -- or tomorrow.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
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Posted by Falling Panda at 10:31 AM