About a week ago I heard, on Morning Joe, about someone who was whining about the stress of being a “high status” individual. OMG! Having wealth and so much privilege is stressful! So, this is the pushback to the 99% movement? You gotta be shittin’ me! The argument being: the wealthy should be paying lower taxes so they can trickle down more of their wealth to bellboys, wait staff, valets and others that live on tips.
Okay, I’m mixing Morning Joe and The Colbert Report, which isn’t like mixing metaphors because the two stories are related. Interesting because in the collected analysis of both MSNBC and CNN, Mitt Romney’s base is the wealthy. That seems logical, but it really hadn’t been investigated, or at least revealed, until after Super Tuesday.
One of the two networks, probably MSNBC, had a panel on one of their talk shows yakking about the voter suppression laws being passed in a number of states and how that would swing the vote towards Romney, were he to become the Republican nominee. Then they broke out the stats from Super Tuesday about who was voting for which candidate and according to them, Romney was getting the rich people vote.
So it’s no mere cliché to say Mitt Romney represents the rich folks. He’s the guy looking out for their best interests. Romney’s tax plan, which “widens” the tax base, benefits only one income strata: the wealthiest among us. For everyone else, the tax burden either stays the same or, in the case of the working poor, increases that tax burden. And it adds to the tax rolls people who are considered too poor to pay taxes. That’s how it widens the tax base.
For instance, if you’re the head of a household of four in California trying to live on less than $30,000 a year, you’re currently eligible to not pay income tax. Plus you get a nice Earned Income Credit. You still pay the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, but you don’t have to pay anything else.
Under Romney’s tax plan, that household would have to start paying an income tax — pushing that family further into poverty. But, if you’re the head of a household with an annual income of $250,000 or more, your tax rate drops from 36% to 20%. If I’m making a million bucks a year and Romney’s tax plan is designed to theoretically save me $160,000 a year in taxes, I’m thinking Romney’s my guy! After all, he’s one of “us!”
Now, realistically, most, if not all, people making that kind of money are getting some or most of it from capital gains income. Meaning, they only pay 15% for that portion of their income. If they collect a paycheck then they pay the tax rate for that level of income. So, they might be paying far less than the 20-25% most of us pay in income taxes, as Romney revealed when he released his tax records. And as Warren Buffet exposed when he wrote his now famous op-ed explaining how he paid less in taxes than his secretary, by percentage.
True, Warren Buffet and Mitt Romney might actually contribute more in real dollars to the tax coffers than us little people, but it’s only about 17% overall, as their tax records have shown. Meanwhile, the people making 100k per year at a real job are paying close to 30% in taxes, which is more of a burden on them than Buffett or Romney bear with their taxes.
One hundred thousand dollars a year sounds like one heck of an income and I’d welcome it truly, but in California, for a family of four, that could keep a family in a decent neighborhood with a house, as opposed to a condo. And if you choose to live in a condo, you’re actually fairly comfortable financially.
But, the fact is, the income tax is a far heavier burden on the lower income person than it is on the high-income person. I may only contribute a total of 5k per year in total taxes, but what’s left over barely covers the bills and essentials.
Were it up to me, people making a million dollars or more per year would pay 50% income tax — and that would include capital gains as well. And those of us making less than 50k per year would be totally exempt from income taxes and then there would be a progressive tax up to that top level of 50%.
If that makes me a Socialist, then I’m a fuckin’ Socialist. And were I a candidate for president that would not make me the candidate for the 1%. Just the opposite.
The reason rich folk are getting such an easy ride of it with taxes is the fantasy about the wealthy being “job creators.” In the years since the wealthy were blessed with lower tax rates, job creation in this country has actually gone down every year. The fact is, lower taxes don’t create jobs — they never have — prosperity creates jobs.
Even after the “dot com” bubble burst in 2000-2001, I was still doing pretty well financially working for one of the world’s largest multi-national telecommunications conglomerates. Most of my co-workers took a terrible hit in their 401k plans though because they put such a large percentage of their 401k in the company’s stock that when reality hit and the true worth of the company’s stock was revealed, they lost as much as 50% of their 401k.
But that’s getting a little off the track here. The original premise being that with that extra million or two the wealthy save in taxes, they can spread some of it around in tips to those of us in the service industry. Now that’s pretty laughable and Stephen Colbert did a great job of showing us why.
The Hooters Girl (or any other wait person) is making minimum wage and trying to live on tips, tips that at the end of the day barely equal a dollar per person served, often far less. Rich folks are getting the best tax rate they’ve ever had since the inception of the income tax and it isn’t trickling down, not even in the form of good tips to people in the service industry. Okay, I used the Hooters Girl as an example purely as an excuse to post photos of Hooters Girls, including my favorite, Claudia, from the Downtown LA (DTLA) Hooters. Click her photo and send a message to the Hooters Calendar folks that you would like to see Claudia from DTLA in the 2013 calendar, in one of the big photos.
“Trickle down” … not even David Stockman, the guy who invented the theory, believes in it. And the only thing that will happen if we change the tax code to a “simpler” or flat (or flatter) tax plan is that those of us in the lower fringes of the Middle Class or are part of the working poor will pay more in taxes and the wealthiest among us will get more tax breaks.
Most of those people in the wealthiest 1% think highly of their guy Mitt Romney and they’re showing that love in the elections. But for the rest of us, voting for Romney — or any of the Republican candidates, since they essentially want to do what Romney has proposed — would be like stabbing ourselves in the back. If you’re in this 99% and voting Republican, why would you want to do that? Just asking.