Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post deserves special praise for noting just how much conservatives have done to keep taxes on the poor low (even if it is just to accuse them of hypocrisy). While covering Erick Erickson’s “I am the 53 percent” rebuttal to the Occupy Wall Street “I am the 99 percent” cry, she writes that the logic is flawed:
But there is some tension between the site’s critique and conservative tax policy. Part of the reason that over 40 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes is because of the continual push to lower them – a cause that conservatives have championed. For example, while the Bush-era tax cuts benefited the wealthy, they also lowered taxes at every income level, making it “relatively easy for families of four making $50,000 to eliminate their income tax liability,” as the Associated Press notes. Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, similarly, took many lower-income Americans off of the tax rolls, an accomplishment about which the Gipper was quite proud.
Khimm willfully misinterprets what Erickson and others are saying. Conservatives don’t want these protesters to pay more in taxes but simply to recognize what these taxes represent. It’s that conservatives believe people should be taxed less, in general, because their money is not put to good enough use (say, entering the dues-receiving coffers of politically active public employees unions who demand greater government spending). They are also objecting to the idea that those who do pay taxes ought to pay more, given what little productivity we’ve seen from government spending.
Sure. The point may be hobbled when people are grousing about it like the neighbor yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. But “I am the 53 percent” is not the same as saying, “Get a job!” It’s more like saying, “I got a job and this is what I am subsidizing?”