LESSONS LEARNED #83: “Those who don’t pay taxes will always approve higher tax rates on those who do.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 15th, 2011

To win Elections using Class Warfare you need lots and lots of Poor People

The Democrats want to tax the rich. To make them pay their fair share.  As determined by them.  And they accuse Republicans of cutting taxes for the rich.  Giving them tax breaks.  Credits.  And loopholes.  All paid for by the poor.  Or so they say.  The Republicans deny this, of course.  They want lower tax rates across the board.  For they believe lower tax rates create jobs.  By removing uncertainty for business.  Giving them confidence to invest.  And grow their businesses.  Thus creating those jobs.  The Democrats counter that lower tax rates just make more rich people.

We call this class warfare.  Getting the poor people to hate the rich people.  Blaming the rich for their poorness.  And making the poor understand that if it weren’t for the taxes the poor pay the rich couldn’t have their mansions.  Or their private jets.  Because the poor subsidize the rich in America.  As least according to the Democrats.  As nonsensical as this is.  For mansions and private jets are expensive.  So expensive that the poor can’t afford them.  Yet their taxes can buy them for the rich.  Silly argument, yes.  Then again, class warfare isn’t based on logic.  Or common sense.  It’s based on pure, raw emotion.  Feelings.  The rich are rich.  The poor are not.  And that’s all the poor need to know.

This is how Democrats win elections.  By promising to raise taxes.  Normally, anyone who says they will take more of your money will find it difficult to win elections.  But when you promise to take more of someone else’s money, well, that’s a different story.  You just need one thing.  Lots and lots of poor people.  Who you can make feel good by taxing the rich.  By punishing the rich.  Making sure the rich get their just deserts.  And I don’t mean some hoity-toity crème brûlée.  Which, incidentally, is delicious.  No.  We’re talking about a good ole fiscal smack-down.  A swift kick to the financial bonbons.  The wallet.  It won’t change your life.  If you’re poor.  But it’ll make you feel good.  And that’s what class warfare is all about.  Feelings.

Using the IRS Numbers to see who has been Paying the Bulk of our Federal Taxes

You get tired hearing the same old lies.  No doubt you agree with me.  Regardless of what side of the aisle you hail from.  Some of you are absolutely sure the Democrats are lying.  And some of you are absolutely sure the Republicans are lying.  Can’t be both.  Well, it can be both, I guess.  But one side has to be more truthful than the other.  Considering how diametrically opposed the two sides are.  So let’s ignore the arguments.  Let’s find our own truth.  Let’s go to the numbers.

The IRS breaks downs tax revenue in numerous ways.  One of which is by income groups.  So we looked at these breakdowns.  For the years 1995 – 2008.  This takes us from the midpoint in Bill Clinton‘s presidency.  Through George Bush‘s.  The IRS breaks down incomes across many income groups.  We’ve added some of them together to reduce their numbers down to four groups.  As shown here:

The percent of returns is from 2007.  This is the percentage of total federal income tax returns filed with the IRS.  We picked this year to show where income had trended to before the subprime mortgage crisis.  So, without further adieu, let’s see who has been paying the bulk of our federal taxes.  The rich.  The poor.  Or somewhere in between.

The Rich and Middle Class pay over 90% of all Federal Taxes

We’ve broken these numbers down into the four income groups.  Then we calculated the percentage each group paid of the total tax revenue.  And graphed the results.  As shown here:

(Source:  SOI Tax Stats – Individual Income Tax Rates and Tax Shares)

We can glean a couple of things from these numbers and this chart.  First of all, the middle class still makes up about half of all taxpayers.  And there are very few ‘rich’ people.  Only about 16% in 2007.  And that counts anyone earning $100,000 or more as rich.  Based on how few rich there are and the amount of federal taxes they pay, it’s hard to say that they aren’t paying their fair share.

People earning less than $14,000 virtually pay no taxes.  They hardly paid anything during the Clinton presidency.  And paid even less through the Bush presidency.  If we call these people poor, then the poor aren’t paying for the rich.  They’re not even paying their own way.

The next income group also shows a continuous decline.  Those who start to earn some serious money for the first time in their lives pay little in federal taxes.  Less than 10% for the last fifteen years.  And less and less as the years go by.  So, clearly, those earning less than $30,000 per year are hardly paying any federal taxes at all.  And are not subsidizing the rich in any shape, manner or form.  If anyone is being subsidized, it is those earning less than $30,000.  Some 33% of all taxpayers.  And who’s paying their way?  The rich and middle class.

So who’s paying the most in taxes?  The rich and middle class.  In that order.  In fact, they are paying about 90% of all federal taxes.  And have been for the last 15 years.  (Or more.)  During Clinton.  And Bush.  In fact, the rich paid a larger percent of all taxes under Bush (the Republican) than they did under Clinton (the Democrat).  Not exactly what you’d expect based on the political rhetoric.  And the middle class paid less under Bush than they did under Clinton.  In further fact, everyone except the rich paid less in taxes under Bush than they did under Clinton.  So whoever says the ‘rich’ aren’t paying their fair share are either lying.  Or grossly misinformed.

The more Rich People there are the Bigger Percent of Total Tax Dollars they Pay

Notice the top two graphs.  They’re almost mirror images of each other.  As the rich pay more in taxes, the middle class pay less.  This is a good thing, yes?  Transferring more and more of the tax burden to the rich?  It’s what the Democrats say they want.  So it’s interesting to see when the rich pay more in taxes.  During good economic times.  When policies are favorable to business.  And there are lower tax rates.  Never was more of the tax burden transferred to the rich than it was than after the Bush tax cuts.

There are a couple of things happening here.  During recessions (early 2000s and late 2000s), tax revenue from the rich fell.  Because businesses revenue fell.  So business profits were down.  As were income taxes.  On businesses.  And highly paid employees these businesses laid off.  So overall tax revenue was down.  Which made the middle class’ portion of tax revenue a greater percentage of the total.  Not because they were paying more.  But because the rich were paying less.  Which explains the mirror image of these two graphs.

But there’s something else happening, too.  Remember when the Democrats said tax cuts don’t create jobs?  They just create more rich people?  Well, they were partially right.  As the economy expands so does wealth.  Employees leave their companies and start their own businesses.  People advance in their careers and make a lot more money.  Entrepreneurs strike it rich with new innovation.  And you know what all of this means?  People leave the middle class.  And join the rich.  Where they pay more taxes than they ever did before.  Transferring more and more of the tax burden from the middle class to the rich.  Which also explains the mirror image of these two graphs.

The more rich people there are the bigger percent of total tax dollars they pay.  So if the Democrats were true to their word they wouldn’t punish the rich.  Instead, they would focus their energy on making more rich people.  To help the poor and middle class.

The Democrats sacrifice the Poor for Votes

Now it’s interesting how the different political parties interpret these graphs.  Republicans are interested in the top two.  They would like to make business friendly policies to grow business.  And create jobs.  Make as many rich people as possible.  So more and more of the tax burden can be transferred to them.  Not by high tax rates.  But by robust economic activity.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are interested in the bottom two graphs.  Those making $30,000 or less.  They want to see these graphs falling to zero.  And they want to increase the total number of people earning $30,000 or less.  Because those who don’t pay taxes will always vote for you if you promise to raise tax rates on the rich.  And the more poor there are the more political power the Democrats have.  I mean, that 33% who pays virtually no income taxes?  Who do you think they’re going to vote for?  That’s right.  Whoever promises to punish the rich.  And punish they will.  For they want to transfer as much of the tax burden to the rich as possible.  Not by robust economic activity.  But buy punitive tax rates.

This is class warfare.  Based on raw emotion.  Feelings.  Not logic.  Or common sense.  They get the poor angry.  And blame the rich for their poorness.  This is how they win elections.  They lie.  The Democrats.  And say they are punishing the rich.  When they are in fact punishing the poor.  And the middle class.

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