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Millionaires can afford a tax hike: Some correspondence

Nothing makes middle-class conservatives angrier than suggesting millionaires should be paying more in taxes. One admires such folks for sticking so rigorously to a principle that won't benefit them in the least, but still one wonders—why?

Anyway, I've heard from you in blog comments and at Facebook. I also received a couple of letters on the topic overnight. The first, from John Senuta in Wickliffe, Ohio:
Hey Joel here is another way to look at it .The poor that don't want to
work and live off you they look at you as RICH and they want alot more of your
money to spend.They want your TAX rate to go to 75% so they could live
better,you can afford it RIGHT???? 
And by the way a portion of your phone bill pays for a cell phone for them
to use FREE.Do you have a cell phone????How much are yoiu paying???Let dig a
little deeper into your pocket and help them out....
There's a presumption here that "the poor" are a bunch of lazy panhandlers trying to get their hands into your pocket. But of course, there are four job-seekers for every job opening in America today. And the money raised from a millionaire's tax, in this case, would go towards programs like tax breaks for businesses to hire employees.  So that people can work private-sector jobs. It's shifting the tax burden ... to people who can afford it.

H Kennedy, meanwhile, tells me that my thinking is "narrow and faulty based on a short coming socialist point of view." An excerpt:
Of course, you give no thought to the fact within our present tax structure the top 1% of wage earners already pay 39% of taxes collected. And, I might add, the top 50% of earners pay 97% of the taxes. 97%, that means the entire remaining 50% pay only 3% of all taxes. Yet, avail themselves of all the benefits provided by the greater taxes collected from the others. Perhaps it is your concept is those top 50% should pay 100%. That way all the others shouldn't pay anything. 
As well, many of those 3% not paying any revenue into the system will get 'refunds' under the Earned Income Tax Credit' or Child care Credits. Refunds, I might add, from the taxes paid by those evil rich. 
Additionally, have you given no thought that the 'millionaires' are already paying more taxes? They are paying more in their communities in Real Estate Taxes due to the more and expensive 'upper class' homes. Also, more taxes in licensing fees, sales taxes, and personal property taxes for the cars, boats, etc. they own. So, these greater tax payments support the local fire, police, schools, and support services. And too, pay more to keep the streets, bridges, sidewalks, infrastructure, etc. in their towns and cities.

So, Pay More???? 47% of the population isn't paying anything. Yet, they use those fire, police, EMT, personal. They travel those street, roads and bridges. Those "not so fortunate" share in all these with any cost sharing all due to the payment of the 'evil rich'.
Some mistakes that Kennedy makes:

• I don't think I've said the rich are evil.

• It's incorrect that 47 percent of the population "isn't paying anything." Now: A good portion of the population doesn't pay income taxes, it's true. But they do pay other taxes—FICA, for example, to the feds, plus all manner of local sales taxes and other fees—that go to support the very services Kennedy says only the rich are paying to support.

• As Ezra Klein notes in the link on the previous bullet point, Citizens for Tax Justice (PDF) has added up all the federal and state and local taxes paid by each income group. And this is what they've found:

The Top 1 percent earns 22.2 percent of all income in the United States—and pays 23 percent of all taxes: federal, state, and local combined. Despite what Kennedy says, the rich are not unduly burdened.

And it suggests we can do what I've been saying all week: Raise taxes on the millionaires. They can afford it.


yvette said…
It's long baffled me how conservatives manage to fool their constituents into voting against their economic interests time and time again, all the while waving the "free" and "rational" market ideology.

Part of me wants to ascribe this to the skill with which conservatives leverage the political machine, but the more cynical part of me ascribes this to the inability of people to really think for themselves, which is so evident in the now-tedious and unthinking banner of American anti-"socialism."

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