Tax the 47% So They’ll Leave the Other 53% Alone
Presidential candidate Herman Cain is touting his 9-9-9 tax plan, which would replace the three-million-word tax code with a flat 9% federal income tax, 9% corporate tax, and 9% national sales tax.
Fellow candidate Rick Perry recently proposed a flat tax of 20% on earned income and 20% on corporate income, and a simplification of the tax code including elimination of loopholes and eradication of the death tax. Newt Gingrich has similarly suggested a 15% flat tax.
These plans recall the flat tax Steve Forbes campaigned for president on in 1996 and 2000. All of these plans, in addition to numerous other benefits, would massively reduce the U.S.’s collective tax compliance cost to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. (Though liberals don’t realize it, it would be a fantastic thing for our economy if every employee of the Internal Revenue Service, H&R Block, and every tax lawyer, accountant, and tax preparation service employee lost his job and had to go out and find useful productive work.)
In response to these Republican candidates’ thoughtful proposals, liberals are screaming that conservatives’ plan for getting us out of our present fiscal crisis is to “tax the poor.”
If only we could get out of our current budget predicament by taxing the poor. In fact, we can’t even get out of it by taxing the rich.
As has been amply demonstrated, massively increasing taxes on high earners wouldn’t come close to relieving our budget woes, which can be alleviated only via radical entitlement reform. Eating the rich now will not ensure an enriching long-term diet for the nation later.
The reason conservatives have been advocating flatter taxes is not that they want to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” or some other such nonsense. It’s so that the 47% of the population who, due to the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit over the past several decades, pays no federal income tax will be forced to contribute something, however measly, to the country’s tax revenue.
Free market types don’t want to raise taxes on the poor to be meanies. They just want liberals to stop demanding that high earners pay more, and Democrats to stop spending so much, and are willing to call the left’s bluff by shining a blinding spotlight on how little almost half the population pays to fund our government.
Conservatives hope that if the income of the lower-earning half of the electorate were considered fair game, then maybe the voters receiving it wouldn’t be so quick to rally around politicians who want to increase spending via public boondoggles like Obama’s Jobs Act, which will have to be paid for via tax revenue.
If Democratic politicians weren’t constantly dreaming up new ways to steal and waste the hard-earned income of the nation’s most productive citizens, perhaps so many Republican candidates wouldn’t be proposing that a greater proportion of society have some “skin in the game.”
And contrary to Democrats’ claims, a flat tax doesn’t “help” or “benefit” the rich—it merely punishes them a little less. If Occupy Wall Street types weren’t going around hollering that the rich should be even more exorbitantly taxed than they are now—the highest-earning 1% already shoulder 40% of the federal tax burden, a fact of which most protestors seem blissfully unaware—then the glaring lunacy of their demand that the rich pay their fair share wouldn’t be so ripe for ridicule.
It’s possible that neither Cain nor Perry will be the best Republican candidate to deliver the flat tax message, since each seems to have some difficulty explaining the intricacies of his policies to audiences (though see Perry’s fine Wall Street Journal editorial outlining his plan). But having three of the most prominent candidates pushing for a flat tax may pressure other candidates to endorse similar plans, should they secure the nomination (ahem, Mitt Romney).
Liberals must be scared that these flat tax proposals will resonate with voters, as witnessed by the flurry of recent editorials declaring, not that the plans won’t work, but that smart voters would never, ever go for them.
Conservatives often play the game of asking liberals how much earners in the highest tax bracket should pay—that is, how much would satisfy the left’s desire to bash the rich. 50% of their income? 60%? 70%?
How about a different game: What percentage of their income would it be fair to ask those in the lower 47% to pay? Would 10% a year be too much too ask? How about 5%? 1%?
Something greater than 0.00%?