The Congress is nothing if not inventive. It seems that our President has a plan to “stimulate” the economy by spending $60 billion on “infrastructure” (a loosely-defined term at best). But he has a plan to pay for it, and the Congress is all for it — except those pesky Republicans.
According to the lead editorial in today’s New York Times:
There’s nothing partisan about a road or a bridge or an airport; Democrats and Republicans have voted to spend billions on them for decades and long supported rebuilding plans in their own states. On Thursday, though, when President Obama’s plan to spend $60 billion on infrastructure repairs came up for a vote in the Senate, not a single Republican agreed to break the party’s filibuster.
Damn. What’s bothering them now?
That’s because the bill would pay for itself with a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million.
Sounds downright meanspirited, doesn’t it? A piddling 0.7% “surtax?” On people making more than $1,000,000? How much could that be?
That would affect about 345,000 taxpayers, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, adding an average of $13,457 to their annual tax bills.
Well, just how much is $13,457 a year? Interestingly enough, it is the amount of federal taxes that a family with two children would pay on a gross income of $110,000 a year. In effect, the government would instantly create the equivalent of 345,000 such families, except the millionaires would pay their taxes for them. Oh, yes — the “per year” thing — the total revenue from one year’s surcharge would still only be about $4.6 billion — so paying off the whole $60 billion, with accrued interest — would take some time. Maybe about 20 years or so.
Frankly, that doesn’t sound like “the bill would pay for itself,” does it? It sounds like 345,000 taxpayers out of roughly 110,00,000 would pay for it. How did all this wind up being their bill?
But, the Times rails:
Protecting that elite group — and hewing to their rigid antitax vows — was more important to Senate Republicans than the thousands of construction jobs the bill would have helped create, or the millions of people who would have used the rebuilt roads, bridges and airports.
What heels! How can they be so — so — awful! I mean, screw them! There’s only 345,000 of them. Why shouldn’t they pay $ 60 billion for everyone else? After all — what the hell can they do about it, if we pass a law that says they have to?
Well, the Times (surprise) is full of shit. This isn’t about one 0.7% surtax; it’s about the idea that whenever the government now wants money, it can just airily declare “Oh, the “rich’ have plenty– we’ll just take it from them.” When one considers that the federal income tax itself started as a “temporary” 1% charge, one can be forgiven for wondering where that might end. And who knows whom they might define as “rich?” Right now, they’re still talking about families with incomes over $250,000.
Most Americans don’t make $1,000,000 a year or more — but a surprisingly large number of them are opposed to the idea that the “majority” can just reach out and pick the pockets of the minority whenever it suits them. These folks are not unaware of the rapacity of taxation, its tendency to grow unchecked, and the consequences of pretending that the taxpayers of the US are one limitless pocketbook that can be tapped at will.
These Americans see a government that still insists that phony “cuts” and phantom “savings” actually amount to real spending reductions, when they clearly don’t.
These Americans wonder now if there is any level of restraint that can be imposed on a bureaucracy whose survival seems to depend on patronage, handouts and the callous mockery of reason and logic.
These Americans are fed up with politicians who treat them as though they were stupid, who insist that only the government can solve social problems, stimulate economic growth and produce prosperity.
If some of these Americans are Republicans who demur at the prospect of reaching even further into peoples’ pockets, that’s not a bad thing. People may have short memories, but some of them can recall that there is something called the “thin end of the wedge.” Once you start defining some people’s wealth as community property, it becomes harder and harder to know where to draw the line between “the wealthy” and everyone else.
Creating 345,000 phantom $110,000 income families just doesn’t seem like a great way to demonstrate that this administration has a firm grasp on reality. But then, it never did. And as for the “Citizens for Tax Justice:” interesting concept of justice you have there. There are now 7 billion people in the world. The vast majority of them make a sliver of what you make. Better hope they don’t all get together and vote. You might not like their idea of “justice.”