Free Markets, Free People


Tea Parties Are About Future Taxes, Not Present Ones (update)

Much of the left,  Steve Benen serving as a perfect example, are missing an essential point about the tea parties planned around the country. They aren’t about the level of taxation now. Instead, those attending them understand that with the massive spending undertaken by the federal government and the massive amounts of currency pumped into the system by the Federal Reserve, taxes aren’t going to remain anywhere near where they are now, no matter what politicians promise.

Benen uses a recent Gallup poll which says people are mostly happy with the tax rates they now have in an attempt to portray the protesters as being out of touch and out of step with the mainstream:

The latest survey from Gallup shows these assumptions don’t seem to apply right now: “A new Gallup Poll finds 48% of Americans saying the amount of federal income taxes they pay is ‘about right,’ with 46% saying ‘too high’ — one of the most positive assessments Gallup has measured since 1956. Typically, a majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, and relatively few say their taxes are too low.”

The same poll found that 61% of Americans believe the income taxes they paid this year are “fair.”

This certainly isn’t the kind of public opinion landscape Republicans were hoping for. In order for conservative talking points on the economy to be effective, Americans have to believe the current tax rates are never “about right” and anything but “fair.” Broad satisfaction with taxes leaves Republicans with very little else to say.

I beg to differ (and it isn’t just “Republicans” involved in these protests). What it says is the Bush era taxes, the ones which resulted from a tax cut, are considered “fair”. That would mean, then, than any increase in taxes would be considered something other than “fair”. And anyone with enough intelligence to make toast should realize that the spending orgy we’ve seen in the last few months is something that will have to be “paid for” either through taxation or inflation (or both).

So when Benen says the following, he whiffs completely:

Indeed, the semi-official slogan of the Tea Baggers’ events tomorrow is “T.E.A.: Taxed Enough Already.” It was hard enough to make this argument shortly after the president signed the largest middle-class tax cut in history; it’s even harder in light of poll results like these.

“Taxed Enough Already” mirrors the poll. But unlike Bennen, who attempts to pawn off the “95% of Americans will receive tax cuts” nonsense as the reason for the satisfaction, the people showing up seem to understand the economics of the situation better than he does. Someone is going to have to pay for all this fiscal profligacy, and the protesters know exactly who those people are.

Thus the protests.

UPDATE: Benen still doesn’t get it. Referencing this post, he says:

I see. So, at some point in the future (we don’t know when), some politicians (we don’t know who) might find it necessary to raise taxes. Whose taxes would be raised? It’s too soon to say. How much would taxes go up? No one knows.

It helps, if you’re going to write about this stuff, if you keep up with what’s been going on. As we pointed out in another post on the Obama budget, you don’t even have to guess “how much” or whether or not it might be “necessary”, the budget answers those questions:

Tax Increases:

Against a baseline that assumes current law tax policy is extended, S. Con. Res. 13 raises taxes by $361 billion and allows for $1.3 trillion in additional tax increases. In addition their budget paves the way for additional tax increases from a proposed cap-and-trade tax in reconciliation.

And (making the point as to how the 1.3 trillion is raised):

Deficit Neutral Reserve Funds:

The Democrat budget includes 15 “reserve funds,” which essentially “phantom spending” policy statements that allow the majority to say that they would like to fund a certain initiative. The deficit neutral requirement associated with the reserve funds typically require that taxes be raised in order to pay for the new policy initiative. If all reserve funds were to be fully enacted, total spending would increase by $1.3 trillion, financed by tax increases or spending decreases.

Maybe Benen finds that acceptable, but obviously those protesting don’t.

He concludes with:

With this in mind, I can only conclude that the Tea Parties are the most forward-thinking political events in the history of the country.

Another whiff – all you have to do is read the budget proposal that was passed by Congress, Mr. Benen. It outlines the size and scope of those future taxes fairly specifically.

You have read it haven’t you?

~McQ

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46 Responses to Tea Parties Are About Future Taxes, Not Present Ones (update)

  • From any perspective, the amount of taxation and what gov’t programs are currently funded by which ever tax and how it is structured, the political left is refusing to observe their obvious over-reach. (ie. As tobacco taxes skyrocket, smokers are quiting. At the same time more and more gov’t programs are being funded by tobacco taxes. Decreasing revenue to pay for increasing gov’t programs =  new taxes on non-tobacco users. Just wait till that bubble bursts.)

    • Heh.  I was in the liquor shop a few days ago when I saw a sign next to the cash register that thereabouts stated tobacco taxes were increased for the SCHIP program.

      I turned to my wife and said, “We better start smoking again… or suffer the little children.

      Disgusting.

      Cheers.

  • Well, in terms of taxes people actually see on their paychecks (as opposed to various sales and excise taxes),many of them pay none at all. This site says over 40% pay no federal income tax, for example.

    I’d figure pretty much all of them are in the “taxes are about right” cohort. How can they argue with paying zero tax? How much more fair can their taxes be?

    I interpret the Gallup survey as merely validating the idea those who don’t pay taxes think it’s just peachy to stick it to those that do.

    • People with the inability to grasp what numbers represent are NOT going to understand just what all those deductions on their pay stub MEAN.

      To the overwhelming majority, the only number that means something is their “Take Home Pay”.

      The black psychological art of tax withholding has been very well implemented.

      Considering how many people can’t even balance their checkbooks, the poll only reiterates this.

      Thank you, public “education”.

  • “Tea baggers” is liberal talk for “look how clever I am using a crude homosexual/sexual reference as an insult.”

    • Yeah, I know — exceedingly clever, in a 5th grade sort of way, isn’t it?

    • I like this site because I learn things. Sometimes I learn too much. I can’t drink coffee, so now I guess I have to switch to cocoa–unless there is something else I should know?

  • “What it says is the Bush era taxes, the ones which resulted from a tax cut, are considered “fair”. That would mean, then, than any increase in taxes would be considered something other than “fair”.”

    That’s a logical leap.  It’s possible taxes could go up, say 1%,  and still be considered fair.

    “And anyone with enough intelligence to make toast should realize that the spending orgy we’ve seen in the last few months is something that will have to be “paid for” either through taxation or inflation (or both”

    This was true before Obama took office.  George Bush basically charged two wars on the country’s credit card while expanding the size of government to historical highs, as well as championing TARP . Who do you think was going to pay for that and how?  Obama is adding to that debt to be sure, but I didn’t see conservatives holding tea parties while Bush was running the debt into the trillions. It’s just more partisan idiocy: it’s okay when we do it but not when they do it.

    • That’s a logical leap. It’s possible taxes could go up, say 1%, and still be considered fair.

      And it is just as possible they might not be – so it’s not a leap at all.

      But what is obvious is many people find the taxes they’re paying right now – Bush era taxes – are “fair” (at least as they define “fair” today).

      This was true before Obama took office.

      That really doesn’t matter does it? It is what people are left with when taxes are levied that matter, and who or what caused them to go up is less imporant than the fact that they’re going to go up. You won’t find anyone here defending what Bush did. But you’ll also not find defenders of the massive spending Obama has committed himself too – and that’s the era we are now living in.

      • Bush had deficits, and those would require more taxes, or the economy growing fast enough to have the original tax rates pay for the debts. 

        The current level of spending is much, much more, and for many tea party supporters I suspect its also who is getting the money – AIG, Citi, GM, the bondholders, etc.

    • There’s such a thing as a tipping point.

      I think there was plenty of dissatisfaction with Bush’s spending, but he got a reputation as a tax cutter for some mitigation.

      Then all of a sudden late in his term, he completely blew off any restraints with the first round of bailouts, and Obama followed him down that road and even upped the ante. Don’t you think such dramatic expansion of spending and debt  (by both of them) could lead could lead to a relatively non-partisan response?

  • You’re just now thinking of this?  Where was all the concern and Tea Party protests when Reagan, Bush I and Bush II were spending future generations into the poorhouse?  You wait until a Dem is in the White House spending money to try to regain an economic footing for the country to express your outrage?  No outrage over the past out of control spending for much more dubious causes (ahem, Iraq)?  The faux outrage now seems a little disingenuous.

    • You obviously know absolutely noting about this blog, do you? Your ignorance is noted.

      • Yes, apparently if you’re headed to hell in a hand cart (Bush II) and a new guy takes control and speeds UP it’s the fault of the previous idiot that you’re now going to hell FASTER.

        The logic is devastating.  Sort of like an actual increase in spending that is less than the proposed increase is actually a ‘cut’ in spending.

      • I must have missed your answers to my inquiries.
        I also must have missed the constant protestations from this blog for the past 8 years and beyond regarding out of control spending?  You did hold annual Tea Parties then? 

        You obviously know nothing about this blog?
        Why would I?  You’re a nobody.

        • I also must have missed the constant protestations from this blog for the past 8 years and beyond regarding out of control spending?

          Obviously.

          Why would I? You’re a nobody.

          As compared to who, you?

        • Yes, you did miss those complaints about Bush’s spending habits..

        • Considering that Benen specifically reffered to this blog, I think they are a bit more than “nobodies”…

          Then again, I’m sure that if you don’t hear about a blog on DKos of The Huff, they are silly, unimportant sites.

    • “You wait until a Dem is in the White House spending money to try to regain an economic footing for the country to express your outrage? .”

      Yep, because this administration is inventing more money from pure thin air then ever before.  And advocating economy killing plans like carbon cap and trade & universal government health care in the middle of the spending spree.  They are firmly convinced you CAN spend your way out of debt and are proceeding merrily on that course.

      “The faux outrage now seems a little disingenuous.”
      You addressing yourself here?

  • Oh, so THAT’S what the tea bagging is about … I thought it was one of the final spasms of a dead ideology.

    Silly me. Carry on then …

    • *rolls his eyes*

      Dead?  You certainly hope so, though I can’t help but wonder why, if it is so dead, you and your ilk spend so much time attacking people like Limbaugh, Beck, and trying to make sure your radio shows get a forced share equal to shows targeting that “dead” ideology…

      • Yes, dead … or at least politically flat-lining.

        Conservative policies are only acceptable to 20 – 22% of the population, and most of those are in the deep south. Conservatives have now gotten their butts handed to them in two straight elections (both times as the ruling party during a war), and 75 – 80% of the American populace ascribes blame for the countries recent failures (bogged down in two wars, near complete economic collapse, precipitous decline in world standing, etc.) squarely at the feet of conservatives.

        In response, conservatism has returned to its roots: The illiterate uneducated peasantry.

        If you want to know what the future is going to be like for conservatives, go ask John Bell.

  • For you people just tuning in the tea parties are not the start of complaints against spending.  That was begun during the Bush administration.  Have you ever followed Porkbusters at all?

  • Porkbusters.   Yes.

    Nothing new about the complaints about spending.

    What has changed, though, was all of a sudden we had bailouts, an obscene spending bill rushed though congress and approved without having been deliberated or even *read* all the way through, and when people expressed alarm and discomfort over it all or wondered if any care at all could possibly have been taken to intelligently direct those funds toward projects likely to be effective as a stimulous (which was also impossible because of the rush) the response ranged from “how dare you be so uncaring about people who are hurting” to “you have an obligation to support this and support Obama and not undermine his efforts” to “paying taxes is patriotic.”

    It’s inconceivable to a whole lot of people that… First… Scatter-shot spending for the sake of indiscriminately throwing as much money into the “system” as possible is going to do any good.    And Secondly… that a huge stimulous bill isn’t going to have to be paid for by SOMEONE.    

    Who that someone is, we’ve never been told.

    We’ve been told, over and over, that our taxes will not go up.   Does that even make sense?   Who is going to pay for this?    We’ve no reason to  trust what we’ve been told and every reason to believe that money doesn’t appear like magic out of the sky just because we’d like it to.

    Also new, is the willingness of so many people to promote government spending and wealth redistribution as a good thing, to publicly support and promote both as the answer to our problems.    Even willingness to publicly claim socialism and publicly portray capitalism as the source of our difficulties.

    These things are new.

  • “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.”  Richard Cheney, 2002

    If y’all’d had an iota of intellectual honesty, these protests would’ve occurred 7 years ago.

    Nonetheless, I assume you guys’ll be buring Cheney in effigy?  And Reagan as well?

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA

    • Who is “y’all” and how do you know we didn’t roast the Republicans?

      Oh, that’s right, you don’t. You just beam in and assume, don’t you?

      • Fair point, Bruce. Can you point to some of the specific posts you’ve made criticizing the Bush administration’s tax policies? 

        More to the point, can you reconcile the relatively more severe criticism of the Obama administration’s spending by conservatives compared to the relatively moderate criticism of the Bush administration? Because regardless of how invalid you find Obama’s spending, it is the case that there’s fundamentally no difference between his proposed trillions of debt and Bush’s – somebody will have to pay it off as some point in time. And the liberal posters here are generally correct that, regardless  of what kinds of complaints were being made on blogs during the Bush years, there was nothing like this Tea Party movement among conservatives back then.

        • “Because regardless of how invalid you find Obama’s spending, it is the case that there’s fundamentally no difference between his proposed trillions of debt and Bush’s.”

          1. There is the simple difference of scale. Obviosuly, if a Mcdonald’s employee buys a used car on credit, it might be considered financially prudent, but if the same person bought a Mercedes Benz?

          2. There  is the issue of what the money was spent on. Maybe you feel the Iraq war was a waste of money whereas Obama’s spending is enlightened, but this is a matter of opinion.

          3. Deficits don’t matter too much if the economy and thus the tax base is growing faster than the deficits themselves. We are obviously not in such a position today. Now, if you suggest that some deficit spending is in order to cover increase unemployment, or stimulus (debatable) then fine, increase spending while we are in the recession. Obama’s stimulus is not just spending money for 1 year or 2 years, but on programs that will cost us far into the future. 

          • Harun-

            Deficit spending aside, it’s not clear to me that the ongoing deficit spending Obama’s proposing is vastly different in magnitude than Bush’s deficits – IIRC, the projected deficits for the end of Obama’s first term are about the same as those of Bush’s latter years in absolute dollars, and likely smaller as a percentage of GDP.

            The Iraq war was inarguably a relatively small part of the Bush deficits, just a bit over 1 trillion dollars, if I remember correctly. That’s a minority fraction of the amount of debt added under Bush. 

            Regardless, I think my earlier point still stands – debt is debt, and has to be paid back eventually, regardless of which party created it.

          • Bruce, it’s interesting – all of your posts are from 2005 or later, well after budget-busting stuff like Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind were passed. (The critiques were concurrent with the collapse of Bush’s approval ratings, however.) There’s also relatively little discussion of the eventual effects of the growing debt under Bush, and how that debt will have to be paid off by higher taxes – the same arguments you’re making with Obama. (You’ve definitely got complaints about _spending_, but not much of an examination of the ramifications of that spending.)

            And again, the liberal posters here are correct that there’s a difference between complaining on a blog, and setting up the kind of widespread protests we’re seeing with the Tea Parties. It’s not that you don’t have an honest argument to make – you clearly do. But it’s dishonest, I think, to say or imply that there’s not a substantive partisan component to these protests. 

      • “Who is “y’all…”

        Those organizing and attending the teabag protests.

        “…and how do you know we didn’t roast the Republicans?”

        I didn’t refer to “roast(ing) the Republicans,” I referred specifically and directly to protests (such as the teabag protests), which did not exist during the Bush/Cheney years, but do now.

        “Oh, that’s right, you don’t. You just beam in and assume, don’t you?”

        I do, indeed, assume that you didn’t appear at any anti-deficit protests during the Bush/Cheney years, because I’m unaware of any anti-deficit protests that occurred during the Bush/Cheney years.  If you can point me to some press clippings covering such protests, I’ll gladly concede the error.

        Patrick Meighan
        Culver City, CA

        • Got it — you have to have specifically gone to a protest to satisfy Patrick.

          That makes absolutely no sense. But hey, the comment section is open to everyone, even those who have no real point.

          BTW Patrick – our protest site was right here – for years.

          • Chris – I said a “small sampling” not a complete listing.  Be my guest and look for more, but don’t try to pass off what I gathered in 10 minutes as the sum of what was said on the blog.  The sampling proves the point that we were on the Republicans and Bush just as much as we’re on the Dems and Obama.

        • Patrick, what did you think pork busters was all about?  I do not recall a single democrat joining in.

  • “The latest survey from Gallup shows these assumptions don’t seem to apply right now: “A new Gallup Poll finds 48% of Americans saying the amount of federal income taxes they pay is ‘about right,’ with 46% saying ‘too high’ — one of the most positive assessments Gallup has measured since 1956. Typically, a majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, and relatively few say their taxes are too low.”

    Let’s examine that poll. 48% of AMERICANS say the amount of federal income tax they pay is ‘about right’. Let’s put them in the “we don’t pay any taxes” bracket that covers 52ish% of the population. 46% say that their taxes are too high – they are most likely to be among the 48%ish that pay taxes. That tells me that of those who pay taxes, 96% think they’re too high. It wouldn’t surprise me if you told me that 4% of the population are upset that the government isn’t giving them more in tax credits – that would be the 4% who already don’t pay taxes and likely get some form of earned income credit.

    In other words, what that poll actually tracks is the percentage of people who actually pay taxes.

  • “IIRC, the projected deficits for the end of Obama’s first term are about the same as those of Bush’s latter years in absolute dollars, and likely smaller as a percentage of GDP.”

    http://blog.heritage.org/2009/03/24/bush-deficit-vs-obama-deficit-in-pictures/

    Bush’s largest deficits were around 400 billion per year. Obama’s smallest deficits (projected by the white house, not the CBO) will be around 600 billion.

  • And what the post doesn’t cover is the utter irrelevence of the argument.  Since when has the left cared whether something was “in the mainstream”?  During their beloved 60′s, the entire movement was born “out of the mainstream” and continued to be “out of the mainstream” for years.  According to mos polls that I have seen and the actual election results, support for gay marriage is “out of the mainstream.”  According to most polls that I have seen, their reverence for abortion is out of the mainstream.  Likewise, their support for illegal immigration, legalizing pot, gun control and “assault weapons” bans, confiscatory taxes as a means of social engineering (i.e., “fat” taxes, soda taxes, carbon taxes), etc., etc., etc.
    Just a small sample of other things that were out of the mainstream at one time or another are abolition, the idea of throwing off England’s Colonial Government, a strong Federal Government, support for interracial marriage, support of the income tax, support of public education, and support for zoning ordinances (people died over this one).

    Seems like Benen has either given this very little thought or he is simply trying to convince himself that this will never take off.

  • All this reminds me of the old saying that if you put a frog into a pot of water and gradually bring it to a boil the frog will not notice and won’t try to escape, whereas if you try to put the frog into a pot of boiling water he will immediately try to jump out. 

    Why anyone would want to boil a frog is beyond me, but I think you get the point of this charming little tale.

    If Bush had spent all that TARP money in his first term, he would not have had a second.  There would have been the same protests by the same people. As it happened, any protests about his idiocy were pointless, as he was gone anyway. By the time anyone organized protests he would have been out of office.

  • This is a fair point.  Reagan’s socialist S&L bailout led the debt to balloon from $700 billion to $3 trillion over his tenure.  Bush had to raise taxes as a result of all the “big G” spending Reagan pumped out…especially the S&L bailout which was one giant pure socialist/borderline communist move.  

  • I gave up on Benen a while ago. he’s clearly been taking lessons from Willis.

    And no, that’s not a compliment, Willis.
     

  • Benen’s point may have been less laughable if Obama’s current tax claims weren’t pure fantasy.  From his speech today: “Make no mistake: this tax cut will reach 120 million families”. This struck me as suspicious since there are only about 300 million people in the U.S. and an average family has three people.
          Even the latest estimate, released this February, is that there are only only 77 million families in the United States; and 116 million total households. Even if he meant to include single people living alone in his definition of a family, the admission that 5% of the working won’t be helped leaves him over nine million shy. Only an increase in population growth coupled with ZERO growth in average pay (otherwise an increasing number of people reach the $200,000 limit) for the next ten years would lead to 120 million families being helped in the tenth year of his plan. And that’s assuming the tax cut isn’t offset by raising taxes on anything those families consume.

  • McQ –

    And anyone with enough intelligence to make toast should realize that the spending orgy we’ve seen in the last few months is something that will have to be “paid for” either through taxation or inflation (or both).

    Note that monetary inflation is taxation, through seignorage, on everyone who holds currency — which means that the inevitable inflation caused by the massive increase in the money supply will indeed be a tax increase on those 95% of working families Obama promised not to tax.

    timactual - Actually, frogs do jump out of water as you heat it.  Just fyi.

    Patrick Meighan -

    You’ve definitely got complaints about _spending_, but not much of an examination of the ramifications of that spending.

    Why would we complain about spending if there were no negative ramifications?  It’s not like we’re new to the fact that spending requires taxation.  All spending must be paid for, through some combination of current taxes, inflation, and future taxes.  As much as I like tax cuts, I know that a tax cut without a matching spending cut is simply a tax shift.

    Chris –

    Bruce, it’s interesting – all of your posts are from 2005 or later, well after budget-busting stuff like Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind were passed.

    Well, QandO was only created in 2003.  And I don’t think you’ll find too much friendly material about Part D or NCLB from back then.  But you’re free to check.