Tax Day

TAX DAY…. It’s April 15, so there’s likely to be a little more attention paid to tax rates today, especially in the political world. House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) is trying to make this as awkward a day for Democrats as possible, as evidenced by his shameless lying on the House floor about taxes.

But before anyone assumes this will be a bad day for Democrats, the majority party has been pushing very aggressively the last several days to turn the assumptions on their head. For example, this AP piece, noting that “Americans are paying lower taxes this year” is making the rounds.

Congress cut individuals’ federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion shortly after President Barack Obama took office, dwarfing the $28.6 billion in increases by states. […]

“The fact is in the past year we have had more tax cuts than almost any time in our nation’s history,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. “It’s something that people don’t realize because of the false rhetoric that is spread throughout this Congress.” […]

The massive economic recovery package enacted last year included about $300 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. About $232 billion was in cuts for individuals, nearly all in the first two years.

The most generous was Obama’s Making Work Pay credit, which gives individuals up to $400 and couples up to $800 for 2009 and 2010. The $1,000 child tax credit was expanded to more families, and the working poor can qualify for as much as $5,657 from the Earned Income Tax Credit.

There were also credits for qualified families who buy new homes or make energy improvements to existing ones, as well as tax breaks to help pay college tuition or buy new cars.

The White House has been pushing a similar line, starting a few days ago with President Obama’s weekly address, and continued today with a message from White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer emphasizing the same point: “Providing significant relief to help working families has been a central focus of the President’s agenda since the day he took office – and today, many more Americans will take advantage of those benefits as they complete their returns.”

Perceptions, to be sure, are skewed. Because our discourse is often ridiculous, most Americans don’t know Congress and the president cut their taxes (and certainly don’t know that Republicans voted en masse against the tax cuts). But whether they’ve gotten political credit or not, Dems have cut taxes for 98% of working families.

Those protesting the notion that they’re “taxed enough already” have chosen, once again, to ignore reality: “[T]he non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reported on Wednesday that ‘Middle-income Americans are now paying federal taxes at or near historically low levels.’ How low? The average family of four right now is paying 4.6 percent of its income in federal income taxes — the second lowest percentage in 50 years.”

Those middle-class Americans motivated to get involved in politics because of taxes should not only be praising Dems, but should also wonder right about now why Republicans have fought so hard against the Democrats’ tax breaks.