Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running Interference For The Big Boys

They're at it again.

Yes, those fun-loving," reform" minded, tax base-expanding Republicans.

Representative Pat Tiberi of Ohio, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has told Think Progress "the tax code shouldn’t be used as a tool to just bring revenue in and beat up people who are trying to be successful…So I think we’ve got to lower the tax rates, both for corporations and for American individuals."       But Tiberi, who apparently never has heard of the payroll tax, state income tax, local and state property taxes, and excise taxes, is not referring to the need to reduce the burden on the poor or the middle class.    He argues "If you don’t have skin in the game, even if it’s ten bucks a quarter, I think it changes the debate on what the role of the federal government is and what the role of state government is."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is little better, saying on C-Span 2 "We also know that over 45 percent of the people in this country don’t pay income taxes at all, and we have to question whether that’s fair. And should we broaden the base in a way that we can lower the rates for everybody that pays taxes."

I think we know who Cantor wants to see pay lower taxes.      According to the the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (its graph, below), the budget passed by House Republicans, authorized by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin ,would cut the after-tax incomes of people with incomes below $10,000 by 2 percent.     But on average millionaires would enjoy $265,000 in new tax cuts in addition to the $129,000 additional they would get from extension of the Bush tax cuts suppported by Ryan, and their income would increase by 12.5%.

While congressional Republicans target the poor and the middle class, the wealthy remain protected.      Yesterday, the Senate blocked consideration of the Buffett rule, which would have required individuals with incomes above $1 million (minus charitable contributions), to pay at least 30% of their income in taxes.       With one Democrat (Pryor of Arkansas) joining 45 Republicans, the 50 Democrats and one Republican voting for cloture fell nine votes short .        The GOP, a month earlier, had garnered 45 votes to block consideration of a Democratic bid to end taxpayer-funded oil subsidies.

The GOP agenda to expand the share of national wealth coveted by the rich and and cut the middle class out extends beyond individuals to corporations.    In the period 2008-2011, 26 corporations- with a total of $205 billion in U.S. profits- were fed subsidies by the U.S. Treasury, courtesy of the American taxpayer.    In all, they enjoyed an income tax rate of -3.1% and handouts of $78.3 billion.       And the Ryan budget passed by the House would cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.

But the GOP is taking no chances, especially because it's unlikely the Senate will pass the House budget.   Today, the House, with only ten Republicans in opposition and ten Democrats in support, passed 235-173 a one-year, 20% tax deduction for all businesses with fewer than 500 employees, which would include professionals such as lawyers, consultants, hedge fund managers (you knew they would be included, didn't you?), and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When Republicans talk about "broadening the tax base," they're talking about making sure elderly people, students, recipients of a child care tax credit or earned income tax credit, and all others poor enough not to pay federal income tax make up for the taxes they're cutting for the wealthy and corporations.       And when Mitt Romney, a supporter of the Ryan budget, accuses President Obama of waging class warfare, he's only disappointed that he and his crowd don't have the playing field all to themselves.

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