Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tax Day Video Response

While approaching the capitol on Tax Day, I was on the fence about whether I should have come out as a progressive upfront or to go in 'solid snake style'. I decided that being on the offense in my first outing is asking for unwanted attention. This wasn't about me, this was about the righteous mob I was about to interview. By righteous I mean possibly armed.

I found as many random people as I could and in the final cut you see all of them. Minus the sexist criticism about how mothers can never be as good role models for daughters as fathers can be and how Obama isn't so bad because he was "born in a white belly," many sourceless talking points we have been hearing from the right were also there.

A primary question I asked was how taxes would be and are currently affected under the Obama administration. The response was instantaneous certainty that they would go up and that they have gone up already. From all the interviews that afternoon there wasn't an explanation to how or why. Maybe its because we have just been given the biggest tax cut in US history, more than under the Bush, Kennedy and Reagan administrations.

A complaint against 95% of Americans getting a tax cut (<- a vent from Time about the misunderstanding) under the new budget came from a post to the Wall Street Journal, which claimed that this was an illusion because the other 5% would have a tax increase. How far from reasoning would someone have to be not to understand why the Wall Street Journal would be interested in the richest 5% of Americans.

Lets zoom in on what sort of bracket we're looking at. The lower class federal income tax is at historically low levels. Those who are getting higher taxes under Obama's budget would have to make over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. Limbaugh, however, seems to think that doesn't qualify as wealthy. He should have followed up that one by adding, "Being wealthy is not about how much money you have, but how many rich friends you have. "

A tea party rep I spoke with in the video said 47% of Americans do not pay income tax and that he was part of the other 53%. The flat rates, however, for the other taxes that percentage still has to pay, is more harmful to lower class incomes. For instance, if the flat rate was 50% and a person has one million dollars vs a person with one thousand dollars, that rate doesn't change.

I also asked what the US tax burden was in comparison to other countries. The most common response, besides not knowing for sure, was that we were up there at the top. No, we're really not. In fact we're quite low by that comparison. On another scale, this is coming from a rally in Florida, where we don't even have a state income tax.

Lastly I was told we had "an out of control government" that was forcing us to pay into something (aka health bill) "we never had to pay into before" and that it was an infliction to the deficit. Oh, and that the bill was "socialism."

On the contrary the bill is going to lower the deficit. Without having background on the bill you might be able to make that argument confidently. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the health care bill would cut the deficit down by $138 billion dollars. That and most importantly giving 32 million Americans health insurance.

Finally, many tea party sympathizers have been using words apart from their meaning to inspire the collection of pitchforks and torches. The health bill is not socialism, by definition. If it were anywhere near it we would have had a public option where the government would provide its own plan, but even that was going to be exactly as it was titled - an option. Confusing regulation with socialism is absurd and paranoid.

The video is available here for those who missed it.

leaflet's blog

Friday, April 16, 2010