Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Modest Proposal for the TEA Party

If the “TEA” in “TEA Party” really stands for “Taxed Enough Already,” then it is hard not to sympathize.  Perhaps that means that we should do some math.  The good news, however, is that it has already done for us.  According to Michael Tomasky’s latest piece for The New York Review, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP, also known as the “Center on Budget”) has done just that.  To be fair, Tomasky makes it clear that this is a “liberal policy analysis group;”  but, let’s keep our eyes on the prize.  We are talking about money, not ideology.

Here are the numbers that matter:

In 2008, the “Center on Budget,” as Washingtonians call it, released a report finding that keeping George W. Bush’s tax cuts intact through 2018 would cost $4.4 trillion.

Remember that the primary beneficiaries of this tax cut are those in the highest tax bracket whose rate was lowered.  That bracket is so high that most of us cannot see it, but the rich are very good about spending their money on propaganda to convince us that we benefit from those tax cuts more than they do.

There is so much hogwash in that claim that we should consider a radical reversal of the policy.  If we really wanted to take a bold step towards getting out of our government’s budget crisis, we could undo Bush’s move, return the tax rate to 39.6% for those whose adjustable gross income exceeds $200,000 (say), and eliminate the income tax entirely for the rest of the population, since the revenue they would provide would now be down there in the noise.  The sooner the rank-and-file of the TEA Party realize that their own taxes could be eliminated by this solution, the more likely that they will throw their energies behind getting the rich to finally pay back for all the fiscal damage they have caused over the last decade.  After all, wouldn’t their bonuses cover the tax hits they are likely to get?

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