(Does that mean TPM is a weblog parasite? Sort of, I guess. On the other hand, I gave Sullivan one of the ideas that appeared in this article. So, hey, I do my part! — Lunch with Talking Points for the first person who can identify which part of the piece it is — Got the email to prove it? You bet.)
Anyway, today on his site Sullivan picks up on a piece in the Post about how the top 400 taxpayers pay as much income tax as the bottom 40 million taxpayers.
“Interesting piece today in the Washington Post, pointing out that the richest 400 tax payers pay as much to the feds as the poorest 40 million in taxes,” he says.
The first point here is that Sullivan either misstates or misunderstands the actual case. What the Post is talking about is income tax, not all taxes. And as every good Talking Point reader knows, the poorest Americans often pay no income tax but a relatively high rate of payroll taxes. Only the top quarter of tax payers pay more income taxes than payroll taxes.
So apparently Sullivan is with George W. Bush in not considering payroll taxes to be “real” taxes. Just thinking over the statistics I wouldn’t be surprised if the bottom 40 million pay much more in payroll taxes than the top 400 do in income taxes – since every one of those 40 million pays 15 percent of earnings in payroll taxes. But that may be wrong since a few of the very top payers pay insanely high amounts. Anyway, I’ll leave that to someone who knows how to add.
But here’s the real kicker. For Sullivan, the tragedy of this statistic is how rough it is for the insanely wealthy in today’s “lopsided” economy. For most Americans the increasing level of wealth inequality (as opposed to income inequality) is a fairness issue for working Americans who hold a declining relative share of the nation’s wealth. For Sullivan, it’s a fairness issue for plutocrats.
The more the “dependent” classes can squeeze the lords and high gentry for social services, the more irresponsible they’ll become!
“If we have one-person-one-vote and you can always vote for higher taxes and spending, knowing you won’t ever have to pay for it,” says Sullivan, “why not do so?”
And you wonder why they call them Tories.