Joe Biden understands marginal tax rates

If all goes according to plan, the Senate will consider an extremely worthwhile jobs bill tomorrow. It’s a pretty straightforward effort: the Obama administration would be able to save or create 400,000 jobs through state aid, boosting teachers, police officers, and firefighters. It would be paid for, not through the kind of deficit financing Republicans pushed in the Bush era, but with a 0.5% surtax on millionaires and billionaires.

GOP members — all of them — have already vowed to kill the proposal, because in their minds, even a tiny tax increase on millionaires and billionaires would be awful. It’s a straight-up choice for Republicans to make: hundreds of thousands of jobs for teachers and first responders, or shielding the wealthiest of the wealthy from paying just a little more.

Every GOP senator believes it’s the rich that need protecting. (And as the economy struggles, it will somehow be Republicans who get rewarded, and the Obama White House that gets blamed.)

As infuriating as this constant Republican conceit is, it was reassuring to see Vice President Biden on the Hill yesterday, giving members a quick refresher on the basics of marginal tax policy.

“You have a one-half of one-percent surtax on the 1,000,0001th dollar — in other words it doesn’t affect anybody who makes $999,000, it doesn’t affect anybody making $999,999 — and if you want to find the guy who make $1,000,0001, it only affects that $1. That’s the only thing the rate goes up on,” Biden explained.

This is a basic fact about marginal tax policy, but it’s one Republicans like to obscure.

“If you make $1.1 million, and god-willing this passes, you would pay next year, $500 more in taxes,” Biden said.

And the point is, these folks can afford it. What we, as a country, can’t afford is to let 400,000 teachers, police officers, and firefighters stay at home rather than work.

As for Biden’s remedial lesson on taxes, it’s painful to realize how necessary it is, since far too many folks — including many Republicansstill don’t understand how marginal rates work.

It may not matter to GOP policymakers, of course, who’d apparently kill any jobs plan that asked for an additional penny from the rich, but at least they should go about undermining the economy with their eyes open.