Newt’s Tax Plan, and Why His Polls Rise the More Outrageous He Becomes
Newt Gingrich has done it again. With his new tax plan he has raised the bar from simply irresponsible to wildly reckless.
Every dollar estimate I’m about to share with you comes from the independent, non-partisan Tax Policy Center – a group whose estimates are used by almost everyone on Washington regardless of political persuasion.
First off, Newt’s plan increases the federal budget deficit by about $850 billion – in a single year!
To put this in perspective, most forecasts of the budget deficit cover ten years. The elusive goal of the White House and many on both sides of the aisle in Congress is to reduce that ten-year deficit by 3 to 4 trillion dollars.
Newt goes in the other direction, with gusto. Increasing the deficit by $850 billion in a single year is beyond the wildest imaginings of the least responsible budget mavens within a radius of three thousand miles from Washington.
Imagine what Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s or Fitch would do if it became law. We’d go directly from a triple-A credit rating to triple X – the veritable porn site of fiscal mayhem. Interest on our debt would become larger than most of the rest of the budget.
Most of this explosion of debt in Newt’s plan occurs because he slashes taxes. But not just anyone’s taxes. The lion’s share of Newt’s tax cuts benefit the very, very rich.
That’s because he lowers their marginal income tax rate to 15 percent – down from the current 35 percent, which was Bush’s temporary tax cut; down from 39 percent under Bill Clinton; down from at least 70 percent in the first three decades after World War II. Newt also gets rid of taxes on unearned income – the kind of income that the super-rich thrive on – capital-gains, dividends, and interest.
Under Newt’s plan, each of the roughly 130,000 taxpayers in the top .1 percent – the richest one-tenth of one percent – reaps an average tax cut of $1.9 million per year. Add what they’d otherwise have to pay if the Bush tax cut expired on schedule, and each of them saves $2.3 million a year.
To put it another way, under Newt’s plan, the total tax bill of the top one-tenth of one percent drops from around 38 percent of their income to around 10 percent.
What about low-income households? They get an average tax cut of $63 per year.
Oh, I almost forgot: Newt also slashes corporate taxes.
I’m not making this up.
This might be amusing if Newt were just being old Newt – if this were another infamous hot-air bubble emerging from an always provocative, sometimes clever, often bizarre mind.
But it’s the tax plan of the leading candidate for president of one of the two major political parties of the United States.
And it comes at a time when America’s rich are raking in a larger portion of total income and wealth than at any time over the last eighty years, when their marginal taxes are lower than they’ve been in three decades, when the nation’s long-term budget deficit is causing cuts in education and infrastructure which will impair our future and that of our children, and when safety nets and social services are being slashed.
How can Newt get away with this?
Because his plan also comes at a time when Americans are so cynical about the major institutions of our society that someone who offers huge, outrageous plans holds a special fascination: The whole system is so awful, people tell themselves, why not just jettison everything and start from scratch? Let’s throw caution to the winds and do something really big – even if it’s colossally stupid.
This is why the more outrageous Newt can be, the better his polls. The more irresponsible his bomb-throwing, the more attractive he becomes to a sizable portion of Americans so fed up they feel like throwing bombs.
History is full of strong men with dangerous ideas who gain power when large masses of people are so desperate and disillusioned they’ll follow anyone who offers easy solutions.
At times like this a nation must depend on its wise elders – people who have gained a reputation for good judgment and integrity, and who are broadly respected by all sides regardless of political affiliation or ideology – to call out the demagogues, speak the truth, and restore common sense.
The great tragedy of America today is the paucity of such individuals when we need them the most.
It’s class warfare!
Yeah right. Three decades of laissez-faire economic polices have allowed the rich to double their share of the national income while paying tax rates a fifth lower than before. The result,notes Kevin Drum, was “wage stagnation for everyone else, a massive financial collapse that ravaged the middle class, an enormous deficits that they’ll be asked to pay off eventually.” If the millionaires tax is the only blowback, the wealthy should count their blessings.
It’s a tax on small business
“Don’t forget that most small businesses file taxes as individuals,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Fox News Sunday. “So when you are raising top tax rates, you are raising taxes on these job creators.” Except when you aren’t. ThinkProgress’s Pat Garofalo points out that fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s small businesses fall into either of the top two tax brackets. Plus, many of the small business filers in the upper brackets are merely investors who have nothing to do with running the business. And if small businesses don’t want to pay taxes as individuals, they can file always as corporations.
It reduces incentives to work and invest
Experience shows otherwise. As Nancy Folbre points out over at Economix, “average annual rates of growth in gross domestic product in the high tax era between 1950 and 1980 exceeded those of the last 30 years. Increases in the top tax rate under President Bill Clinton were followed by robust economic expansion.”
It’s an unstable source of revenue
A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal argued that the high volatility of upper-level income makes it impractical to rely on taxing it. But this concern is vastly overblown and can be easily dealt with by establishing rainy day funds.
In the libertarian view, the rich are entitled to their gains because they worked for them. But this ignores how structural changes in the economy such as globalization, financial deregulation, and the rise of the knowledge-based economy has disproportionately rewarded the wealthy. At the same time, we’ve failed to reinvest in government programs that once leveled the playing field, such as financing for community colleges and public universities.
The rich will leave the country
Good riddance, writes Don Peck in a recent Atlantic essay on how to save the middle class: “America remains a magnet for talent, for reasons that go beyond the tax code; and by international standards, none of the tax changes recommended here would create an excessive tax burden on high earners. If a few financiers choose to decamp for some small island-state in search of the smallest possible tax bill, we should wish them good luck.”
ALL OF THIS
Source: Mother Jones
“Republicans on Sunday decried the notion of a new minimum tax rate for millionaires as “class warfare,” saying the proposal bymay be intended to portray Congressional Republicans who resist it as being callously indifferent to the hardships facing many Americans.”
Okay, GOP, let’s clear up what qualifies as “class warfare,” shall we?
- when extreme budget cuts lead to the deterioration of benefit programs for the public, forcing thousands if not millions to the brink of poverty
- when trillions of the dollars of American tax-payers are given to banks and firms that lined their pockets at the expense of said Americans
- when compensation for CEOs soars as wages for ordinary workers plummet
- when corporations are allowed to spend unlimited amounts endorsing politicians, effectively ensuring that anyone who makes it to the national stage is a hand puppet of big business
- when the highest court in the land is occupied by people with obvious, unchecked conflicts of interest in favor of corporations
- when the megarich actively conspire to keep the “populations/the political process [from] demanding a more ‘equitable’ share of the wealth”
These are just a few examples of the class warfare being waged today. President Obama’s tax proposal? That’s more like deploying one infantry unit against a fleet of drones. And of course Republicans aren’t callous, don’t be ridiculous. Both they and Democrats keep themselves soft and smooth - just the way CEOs like their bedmates.
Many of the same Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different “temporary” tax cut should end as planned. By their own definition, that amounts to a tax increase.
The tax break extension they oppose is sought by President Barack Obama. Unlike proposed changes in the income tax, this policy helps the 46 percent of all Americans who owe no federal income taxes but who pay a “payroll tax” on practically every dime they earn.
There are other differences as well, and Republicans say their stand is consistent with their goal of long-term tax policies that will spur employment and lend greater certainty to the economy.
“It’s always a net positive to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn,” says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, “but not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again.” The Texas lawmaker is on the House GOP leadership team.
That’s right: after decades of demagoguery against any sort of increase in the taxation rate for Millionaires and Billionaires, the Republican party finally want to increase revenue by raising taxes: on the poor! This is so mind-blowingly hypocritical that I can barely process it. Out of everyone in the United States, they want the people with the least amount of money to pay more. Sure, they could have increase taxes on people making more than $2 million a year, but they’d rather take that last dime from your pocket. Disgusting.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.
… I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
Will you idiots in Washingtin please listen to Warren Buffet? At least listen to Warren Buffet. He’s not a whining, crying, gay, immigrant, aethist, liberal, abortionist, he’s one of your own: a fabulously wealthy white hetero aristocrat. And even HE thinks you’re all dead wrong. If you won’t listen to him, who then?
This past month, there was much outrage over the fact that General Electric, despite making $14.2 billion in profits, paid zero U.S. taxes in 2010. General Electric actually received tax credits of $3.2 billion from American taxpayers.
At the same time that General Electric was not paying taxes, many undocumented immigrants, who are typically accused of taking advantage of the system while not contributing to it by many on the right, paid $11.2 billion in taxes. A new study by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy shows that undocumented immigrants paid $8.4 billion in sales taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $1.2 billion in personal income taxes last year. The study also estimates that nearly half of all undocumented immigrants pay income taxes.