The only taxes Republicans want to raise

The notion of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans continues to be quite popular, despite unyielding Republican opposition. The notion of raising taxes on those who make the least, however, has a fair amount of GOP support.

A few weeks ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said it’s a “problem” that many Americans “pay virtually no federal income tax.” This week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pressed a similar point.

“Well, Bastiat, the great economist of the past said, the place where you’ve got to get revenues has to come from the middle class. That’s the huge number of people that are there. So the system does need to be revamped…. We have an unbalanced tax code that we’ve got to change.

“I tell you, if we get control of that committee, the Finance Committee, I intend to see that it’s changed. Not to hurt the poor. We should help the poor. But to make sure that there’s a civic duty on the part of every one of us to help this government to, uh, to be better.”

I see. Orrin Hatch doesn’t want to raise taxes on those who can least afford it, but they have a “civic duty” to pay more — a responsibility that the wealthy apparently do not share.

Since this keeps coming up, it’s worth reemphasizing how bizarre the GOP line really is. When the right talk about roughly half 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, 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 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 if Hatch, Bachmann, and other conservatives are serious about this, I imagine Democrats would very likely welcome the debate. Indeed, when Hatch mentioned the possibility of “getting control” of the Finance Committee, he was referring to a potential Republican majority in the Senate next year, at which point, Hatch, as the committee chairman, would make a point of trying to raise taxes on the wrong end of the income scale.

I suspect voters would be interested in hearing more about this.