Kudos to Mitt Romney for suggesting a concrete and sensible income-tax reform: capping deductions at $17,000. Now, it's not clear whether he means tax liability or taxable income. As Dylan Matthews explains, that's the difference between a highly progressive (in the technical sense, not the euphemism-for-liberal sense) proposal and one that would affect a lot of middle-class households.
The question isn't who gives more and who receives more at a given moment. It's whether the use of tax dollars serves the common good.
So you've probably already heard that Mother Jones has video of Governor Romney saying, among other things, this: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. . . . These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. . . . My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. As is often the case, Wonkblog has heaps of great commentary.
Obama's tax proposal is good short-term policy and smart politics. But it irks me every time I hear him define the middle class so expansively.
Have you filed your tax return yet? If you prepared it yourself, congratulations on navigating that complex web of forms and instructions, an ongoing complexity brought to you by a strange lobby comprised of tax-preparation companies and antitax activists. Senate Republicans blocked the Buffett Rule yesterday, a sad moved surpassed in sadness perhaps only by the smallness of the proposed minimum tax itself.
It's not what the headlines are highlighting, but Mitt Romney's 2010 tax return includes one impressive fact: his charitable contributions amounted to $7 million. I know, this hardly put him at risk of losing one of his houses and ending up out on the street till his driver could pick him up and take him to one of his other houses. Still, giving away almost a third of your income is nothing to sneeze at.
Among those of us who maintain that not everything the federal government does should be either privatized or eliminated, it's common to point out that income tax rates are a lot lower than they used to be, especially but not only for the rich.