Conservatives for higher middle-class taxes

CONSERVATIVES FOR HIGHER MIDDLE-CLASS TAXES…. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) talked to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos this morning, and while most of the attention focused on her “birther” comments, Bill Scher flagged the far more important exchange.

The “Good Morning America” host noted the massive public support for raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year. Bachmann rejected the popular idea, and instead suggested the middle class should be expected to pay more.

BACHMANN: If we taxed 100 percent of what everyone made who make $250,000 or more — everything they made — that would get us about six months worth of revenue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But every bit helps, doesn’t it?

BACHMANN: Well, but it wouldn’t be enough. I think that’s what’s shocking. We could take 100 percent of the profits of every Fortune 500 company and that would give us 40 days worth of revenue. We could also take 100 percent of everything that the billionaires in this country own, and that wouldn’t be enough to solve the problem.

So it’s really a matter of having everyone involved. Part of the problem, George, is that 47 percent of all Americans pay virtually no federal income tax, so we need to broaden the base.

For the record, I haven’t the foggiest idea if Bachmann’s statistics about the wealthy and Fortune 500 profits are accurate. Given her track record, I’d be cautious about accepting them at face value — the strange Minnesota congresswoman has a habit of just making stuff up, pretending to understand things she’s actually quite confused about.

The more important element to this is that Bachmann sees it as a “problem” that so many Americans don’t earn enough money to pay income taxes. When the Republican lawmaker talks about “broadening the base,” she means increasing the tax burden on low- and middle-income families.

Let’s set the record straight. When conservatives talk about nearly 47% of the country paying no income taxes, the argument tends to overlook relevant details — such as the fact that these same Americans still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes.

It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something — the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify.

Moreover, let’s appreciate the underlying point of the “problem” Bachmann wants to correct — for all the talk on the right about cutting taxes at every available opportunity, there’s also a desire to raise taxes on those who can least afford it. The GOP has a natural revulsion to any tax system, but there’s an eerie comfort with a regressive agenda that showers additional wealth on the rich — Bachmann supported the House GOP budget last week, that slashes tax rates for millionaires and billionaires — while asking for more from lower-income workers.

In fact, the drive on the right to increase the burdens on these low- and middle-income families is getting kind of creepy. Some on the far-right have begun calling these Americans “parasites.” Last year, Fox News’ Steve Doocy went so far as to ask whether those who don’t make enough to qualify for income taxes should even be allowed to vote.

But maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Perhaps the best solution is to simply have the debate. The Republican vision is to cut taxes by trillions for the very wealthy, while addressing “the problem” of getting middle-class workers to pay more. The Democratic vision is to increase taxes on the rich, at least a little, while leaving the rates the same for everyone else.

If Bachmann wants to take this case to the public, I don’t imagine Dems would mind.