Happy Tax Day! Okay, I doubt any of you are glad to pay your income taxes, but civilization does not come free. Even if I ended up paying $16,589 in federal income taxes in 2010 and $6566 in state income taxes, I only resent paying my share of taxes when multi-billion conglomerates like General Electric, which made tens of billions of dollars in profits last year paid virtually no federal income taxes. Wherever she is, Leona Helmsley is smiling today. I must be one of the little people.
I have become convinced that if you are a Republican you can be convinced that the federal government can be run on a dollar a year. It’s easy, really. First you have to scope down the federal government so they get out of pesky duties like food safety, air traffic control and defending the country. Instead of civil servants drawing salaries, they can emulate Afghani civil servants and depend on corruption instead; it’s so much cheaper! As a civil servant, I need to be entrepreneurial. Like most IT (information technology) types, I get paid to move bits around. Since I am the gatekeeper for a lot of public data, I should put up a tollbooth in lieu of a salary, maybe $100,000 a year for The Weather Channel to get to our data. It’s probably less than what they spend on lobbying anyhow. That alone should almost cover my salary. Others in our organization could do likewise. The $1? That would be a donation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that they can mail in (the Post Office, of course, would be privatized). $1 is a bargain compared to what they spend now on lobbying.
I’m being facetious, of course, but to think like a Republican you have be so wedded to ideology that you can no longer see the forest through the trees. That was why I was so amused by this article, which really told me nothing I did not know before, but did stimulate some new thoughts. The Washington Post article basically says that many Republican consider removing any tax break to be a tax hike. No, really, this is not a joke.
For example, many Republicans assert that if we remove agricultural subsidies for farming conglomerates, this would be a tax increase. Even Saint Ronald would have choked on a jellybean had some Republican made that wacky assertion back in the 1980s. Sadly, this is what passes for conventional wisdom among Republicans and Tea Partiers these days and this is a topic of serious concern among Republicans in Congress, the Post reports, who are realizing they might actually have to make a deal with Democrats someday. Apparently there are still some Republicans in Congress with enough functional brain cells to realize this is total nonsense, but they cannot seem to convince the rabid anti-tax crowd that it is nonsense.
You would think that if this assertion were valid then what is sauce for the goose would be sauce for the gander. For example, any rent subsidy for a struggling family or any low income heating assistance payment that got cut in order to reduce our deficit would also be a tax increase. After all, if a corporate farmer doesn’t get his $1,000,000 subsidy from Uncle Sam, that doesn’t mean his company really pays more in taxes, it just means that he doesn’t get free money anymore. But if you think this is a tax increase, following Republican logic, taking away a heating subsidy from a poor family is also a tax increase. It just all figures to a Republican or Tea Partier! Yep, two plus two now equals five. It’s the newest math, and it’s great because this newest math is a heck of a way to lower the cost of teaching our children arithmetic. Whatever answer gives you the answer you want to hear is correct! This new math saves even more money because we also no longer have to teach our children critical thinking which, obviously, Republicans never approved of either. It’s sort of like teaching evolution. Tsk, tsk.
What Republicans really mean, of course, is that removing a subsidy is a “tax hike” only if it is a constituency that they care about, i.e. someone who votes reliably Republican. Of course they are concerned about small businessmen, which is why if they had their way they would never pay a dime in taxes, because even a dime in taxes might mean they would never expand their business. In fact we need to give them money, which is why communities across the country give all sorts of taxpayer incentives so businesses will settle pretty please in their area.
The few sober Republicans still out there are realizing that while they would like to cut the size of government and heap even more government largess on the wealthy, eventually government must live within its means and it is not possible to do it solely on the backs of the disenfranchised. So at best some subsidies will have to be moved around. Maybe, since food is in short supply and food prices are very high, agricultural subsidies are wholly unnecessary. Maybe that money could be shifted to something else, like to fix a decrepit bridge or something, which might be using the money wisely. But when you suffer from cognitive dissonance then of course it becomes, no! That would be a tax increase! And Saint Ronald said taxes must never be increased! (Which is a laugh, because Reagan signed many tax increases into law, including tax increases that kept the Social Security system solvent.)
Reagan believed that Americans were taxed too much. He did not say that America could flourish without taxes at all! He did not want to drown the federal government in a bathtub, like Grover Norquist. In fact, he expanded the government, and by not raising taxes enough he produced what were then record deficits.
I am guilty of being left-brained here, but it seems to me that if you refuse to cut wasteful spending like agricultural subsidies to your corporate agricultural buddies, enough of your spending goes to places like this and you don’t raise taxes, rather than close the deficit you expand it. In short, you simply make the deficit worse rather than make it better. But if you are going to claim that ending any subsidy is a tax increase and you bozos are running government, then we may as well put up the white flag. Standard and Poor (which seems to be getting a clue) may as well rate U.S. Treasury Bonds as junk bonds. Abandon all hope, ye investors of government securities! Maybe the U.S. Treasury will pay interest in Confederate dollars. Now there’s a currency a Republican can believe in!
It’s a good thing I am not the President because I would not be able to keep my mouth shut. When Speaker John Boehner came to visit me in the Oval Office and started spouting this nonsense, I would be dialing up 911 and having them cart him over to Saint Elizabeth’s. Maybe he could share a room with John Hinkley. The therapy would start with remedial math.
I’m sorry, Republicans. For the most part you are wonderful people personally, considerate neighbors and I appreciate how well you tend to your lawn and lustily sing songs praising Jesus. But if you believe that cutting a subsidy to your moneyed friends is a tax increase, you are insane. But then again, this is not news to me.