This nonsense has been bubbling around in Republican circles for a while now (it’s partly what prompted Romney’s “off the cuff” remarks about the 47 percent). The idea is that everyone ought to pay at least a little in federal income taxes. It can even be a nominal amount. Even if just a dollar, Rep. Michele Bachmann has said. Skin in the game, they say. Almost a patriotic, community-building thing. And yesterday in the Virginia U.S. Senate debate, Democrat Tim Kaine said he was open to the idea.
But here’s the thing.
As simple and pleasant and harmless as it might sound on its face, what it shows is a blithe ignorance of how the tax code works — of how both parties have designed it to work — to help the working poor. It’s narcotic effect is predicated on that ignorance because let’s face it: most people, including most elected officials, have no idea how the tax code works.
Brian Beutler explains why the call for “skin in the game” is a terrible idea: impractical, self-defeating, and ultimately devastating for the working poor in particular.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.