Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taxing Thoughts

Today, in the United States, it's Tax Day 2012, the last day that Americans can legally submit their completed income tax returns - or, if you're like Mitt Romney, the last day to get an extension until nearly the end of the Presidential campaign, which he may very well extend again past the end of the campaign.

There are a great many Americans thinking about important topics like taxes and tax fairness today - though we highly doubt you'll be hearing much honest discussion on these subjects in much of the mainstream media. Today, some of the media is still dwelling on the 'Mommy Wars', the fake hypocritical outrage we briefly noted yesterday. Many of the others are falsely claiming the Presidential horse race is closer than you might think - which is stupid, considering Pres. Obama leads Mr. Romney 52-43 in the latest CNN poll, Reuters has Obama up 47-43, Obama leads Romney by at least 16 points among women (25 points in the latest WaPo/ABC poll)... and it's only Tax Day, in April.

Don't expect Senate Republicans to be caring much about taxes either, today.

In fact, if you were expecting the Republicans in the U.S. Senate to care about subjects they've given lip service to for years - like fair tax rates, America's debt & deficit, or the federal government's need to collect more of the income it already claims to collect (but doesn't actually collect, for a host of reasons)? We're sorry to say the Republicans in the U.S. Senate - as expected - let you down again Monday night.

Yes, on Monday night, the GOP minority in the United States Senate did the only thing they've proven they're regularly capable of, as they once again filibustered legislation, this time the Buffett Rule, the proposed law designed to bring about tax fairness.

There has been some discussion in the media recently that a tax policy like the Buffett Rule may at best have made a measurable dent in the budget and deficit , and at worst, might have simply made Americans feel their tax system is less unfair. Whether either of those were accurate or not, Senate Republicans didn't want their colleagues to actually vote on the Buffett Rule - so we'll likely never know what the real effects of such a law might have been.

Thankfully, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post, and the group Citizens For Tax Justice, proved they do actually care about taxes, as CTJ once again pulled out their annual 'Who Pays Taxes in America' column, and Ezra simplified it for everyone.

In short, based on Gallup's annual survey on attitudes about taxes, the majority of Americans actually think the level of income taxes they pay are fair. Those Americans who feel their tax burden is the least fair, are those Americans that congressional Republicans want to make pay more in taxes, poor Americans.

Of course, right-wingers often claim that the poorest half of Americans don't pay taxes - which is complete baloney. Thankfully, CTJ and Ezra gathered and simplified those numbers too.

In fact, if you take into account the total tax burden of all Americans, they're surprisingly close - and the wealthy are paying more than anyone else, overall - but not by much. Not surprisingly, the largest burden is being carried by those in the middle and upper-middle classes.

That's exactly the kind of problem the Buffett Rule aimed at fixing - and exactly the legislative action congressional Republicans didn't want to give the Senate a real chance to vote on.

What taxes us most at times like this, are that the things Americans really seem to care about most boil down to having a fair chance to improve their lives, and the lives of their friends, family, and loved ones, today.

The things the Republican politicians seem to really care about boil down to how much of a drag the rest of American society is on their personal financial success.

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