A poll tax for a new generation

A POLL TAX FOR A NEW GENERATION…. One of the most amusing aspects of “Fox & Friends” is their habit of phrasing ridiculous points as questions. It’s a classic cop-out — they’re not making an insulting point; they’re just posing a question for debate. (“Are liberal Democrats more likely to hurt puppies? We’re not saying they are; we’re just asking a question.”)

This morning, host/activist Steve Doocy posed a “controversial” question: “With 47% of Americans not paying taxes — 47% — should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?”

As is always the case, he’s not necessarily saying they should be denied the ability to vote; Doocy was just posing a question.

Well, it’s a stupid question. For one thing, Doocy’s simply wrong on the facts. When he expresses amazement that 47% of Americans are “not paying taxes,” he’s making a deliberately misleading claim. Yes, many middle- and lower-class families get a break on their federal income taxes, but what Doocy neglects to mention is that these same folks still pay sales taxes, state taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes.

To suggest, as Doocy does, that 47% are somehow getting away with something is crazy.

For another, does Doocy think it’s a bad thing that so many Americans get a break on their federal income taxes? As a Republican, wouldn’t it be odd for him to support tax increases on nearly half the country?

And finally, even if Doocy’s bogus claim were accurate — it’s not, but let’s say it is for the sake of conversation — in what universe would we deny Americans the right to vote based on the size of their tax burden?

Tune into “Fox & Friends,” where you’ll get a glimpse of Jim Crow laws for a new generation.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.