fresh voices from the front lines of change







In his presidential campaign announcement speech on Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually said this:

We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax. And you know the liberals out there are saying that we need to pay more.

During a speech in which Perry repeatedly complained about four years of “rising taxes” — when taxes have actually been cut overall under President Obama — Perry slipped in that he is “dismayed” that some people aren’t paying enough in taxes.

And, Perry is also outraged that “the liberals” are saying that “we” need to pay more.

Who exactly is the “we” that Perry is identifying himself with? I think you know.

I don’t know how else you can interpret the above quote as anything but blatant class warfare.

Perry is straight-up attacking the poor and the middle-class who received tax cuts to help them ride out the aftermath of the Great Recession, and defending the rich from the dreaded prospect of having to pay slightly higher income tax rates to help reduce our debt.

As you are probably already aware, the conservative talking point that “nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax” is wildly misleading.

There are several other taxes besides federal income taxes, most significantly the payroll tax, and so only about 10% of Americans don’t pay any net federal taxes at all. And nearly everyone pays some state and local taxes, which are often regressive.

You would think conservatives who are always bragging about the magic of tax cuts would celebrate the fact that so many Americans are not currently paying federal income taxes.

And yet, they are aggrieved. Why oh why could that be?

Because conservatives are not interested in setting tax rates low for everybody. Conservatives are only interested in setting tax rates low for the wealthy.

Perry’s conservative opponent Rep. Michelle Bachmann is similarly outraged at all the poor and middle-class Americans who don’t pay more taxes.

She recently delivered the same misleading talking point, and added: “Part of the problem … is that 47 percent of all Americans pay virtually no federal income tax, so we need to broaden the base.” In other words, the poor and the middle class are the ones who need to pay more, not the wealthy.

Perry was slightly more careful in his choice of words.

But not that careful.

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