Hatch falls in a ditch, keeps digging

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has invested a surprising amount of time and energy lately complaining about taxes. That wouldn’t be surprising — Republicans complain about taxes a lot — except Hatch’s concern is that he wants more lower- and middle-income earners to pay more income taxes.

He repeated the argument last week, and pushed it once again yesterday on the Senate floor.

“It touched a nerve because last week after I raised this issue on the Senate floor, MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere — presumably armed with the talking points from the Senate Democrat war room — went ballistic suggesting that I wanted to balance the budget by raising taxes on the poor,” Hatch said.

“I’m not surprised, but this completely misses my point and the point, and the point is this: no matter what these Democrats tell you, the wealthy and middle class are already shouldering around 100 percent of the nation’s tax burden, and 51 percent pay absolutely nothing in income taxes,” Hatch said.

“Keep in mind, I don’t believe we should tax the truly poor, but now that’s up to 51 percent in just over two years of this administration — people who don’t pay income taxes,” Hatch said. “Are they all truly poor? I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound right that the majority of people — the majority of tax units — in this country do not pay income taxes, and the minority has to carry the burden.”

As part of a joke I didn’t get, Hatch delivered his little harangue next to a photo of Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island.

There’s quite a bit wrong with this, but let’s note that Hatch believes his critics have “completely missed” his point. Actually, Hatch’s point is hard to miss: most Americans don’t make enough money to be eligible to pay income taxes. The senior senator from Utah thinks this “doesn’t sound right,” and wants to see it corrected.

“The point” isn’t exactly subtle — lower- and middle-income families should get a tax increase under Hatch’s vision, so those with more wealth can be relieved of their “burden.”

In case anyone’s forgotten, the relevant details matters here: millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes, but they 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.

Hatch thinks that’s unacceptable and wants these folks to pay more. Good luck with that, Orrin.