Skip to comments.Bruce Bartlett: The Misinformed Tea Party Movement (they don't know much about taxes)
Posted on 03/19/2010 8:49:21 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
On March 16 the Tea Party crowd showed up for yet another demonstration on Capitol Hill in Washington. Curious about the factual knowledge these people have regarding the issues they are protesting, my friend David Frum enlisted some interns to interview as many Tea Partyers as possible on a couple of basic questions. They got 57 responses--a pretty good-sized sample from a crowd that numbered between 300 and 500 people. (Survey results are here.)
The first question that was asked concerned the size of government. Tea Partyers were asked how much the federal government gets in taxes as a percentage of the gross domestic product. According to Congressional Budget Office data, acceptable answers would be 6.4%, which is the percentage for federal income taxes; 12.7%, which would be for both income taxes and Social Security payroll taxes; or 14.8%, which would represent all federal taxes as a share of GDP in 2009.
Not everyone follows these numbers closely, and Tea Partyers may have been thinking of figures from a few years ago, before the recession when taxes were higher. According to the CBO, the highest figure for all federal taxes since 1970 came in the year 2000, when they reached 20.6% of GDP. As we know, after that George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress cut federal taxes; they fell to 18.5% of GDP in 2007, before the recession hit, and 17.5% in 2008.
Tuesday's Tea Party crowd, however, thought that federal taxes were almost three times as high as they actually are. The average response was 42% of GDP and the median 40%. The highest figure recorded in all of American history was half those figures: 20.9% at the peak of World War II in 1944.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
Bartlett goes on to show that :
According to calculations by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a congressional committee, tax filers with adjusted gross incomes between $40,000 and $50,000 have an average federal income tax burden of just 1.7%. Those with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 have an average burden of 4.2%.
Even though the Tea Partyers were specifically asked about federal income taxes, it’s possible that they were thinking about other federal taxes as well, such as payroll and excise taxes. According to the JCT, when all federal taxes are included, those earning between $40,000 and $50,000 have an average tax rate of 12.3%, and those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 pay a rate of 14.5%.
In short, no matter how one slices the data, the Tea Party crowd appears to believe that federal taxes are very considerably higher than they actually are, whether referring to total taxes as a share of GDP or in terms of the taxes paid by a typical family.
More Bartlett observations :
Federal taxes are very considerably lower by every measure since Obama became president. And given the economic circumstances, it’s hard to imagine that a tax increase would have been enacted last year. In fact, 40% of Obama’s stimulus package involved tax cuts. These include the Making Work Pay Credit, which reduces federal taxes for all taxpayers with incomes below $75,000 by between $400 and $800
Most would not only not know, they couldn't even tell you what the Speaker of the House IS.
Lets see... obama gives everyone like a $5 a month tax cut ... but says he will repeal Bush's HUGE tax cuts, and we are suppose to be happy about his $5?
Obama spends trillions on pushing this new entitlement, when the current ones are already braking us... lies to us over and over saying insurance 30 million and subsidizing the cost of insurance for 10’s of millions more will somehow magically SAVE us money!
And they think we are dumb ?
Rather obscure question. They’d get a much closer picture (and realistic) if they asked something more personal like average income tax per individual. But they don’t want that - that want to make tea party people look stupid.
Common people are ill-informed. Wow, what a scoop.
The real story would be that the people who are supposed to know—the ones we call “intellectuals”—aren’t much better informed (that is, when they aren’t given a chance to prep themselves). Not that journalists have an interest in poking fun at any but easy target like the great unwashed.
OK, so the typical Obama supporter is ignorant as well, what does that have to do with the point that Bartlett is making, which is ( cut and paste his quote ) :
Whatever the future of the Tea Party movement in American politics, it’s a bad idea for so many participants to operate on the basis of false notions about the burden of federal taxation. It only takes a little bit of time to look at one’s tax return to see what one is actually paying the Treasury, calculate the percentage of one’s income that goes to taxes, and compare it with what was paid last year and the year before. People may then discover that their anger is misplaced and channel it into areas where it is more likely to bring about positive change.
It is tendentious to ask about TAXES when they only cover a fraction of what the Federal government spends. And why concentrate only on Federal spending? Government on all levels spends over half the GDP.
And that’s just the direct spending. Another large fraction of the GDP is spent by private individuals and business as A DIRECT RESULT of government regulations and mandates.
But let’s concentrate on irrelevant details of tax law instead. And let’s do what we can to marginalize tea partiers.
Big deal, but what they do know is that a vast portion of the 50 to 60 year old Baby Boomers are facing in the “Obama economy” an Extinction Level Event. Meaning what retirement they do get will be little more than welfare with angry Democrats running the welfare office.
Barttlet is a total loser. Ask detailed questions of an Obama Voter and they are less informed on virtually all issues. No research necessary. As for the TEA Party message, it is about limiting government — not just about limiting taxes. Barttlet ought to get a clue.
I guess that $220+ billion per month in the red will just pay for itself. Q@#$%@#$ idiots! Typical short-sighted utopian thinking that got us in this mess. Screw Mr. Bartlett.
Wow, more “constructive” Republican brainstorming...let’s give tax tests to average Americans protesting big gov??
Go to hell Frum....you are useless AND counterproductive.
“...Tea Partyers were asked how much the federal government gets in taxes as a percentage of the gross domestic product.”
If you don’t know that kind of thing you certainly must be some sort of astro turfing redneck trying desperately to cling to your guns and religion. sarcasm/off.
How about the author and Frum come down to a reality check at my house. We pay a crapload of taxes and see no end in sight of it going down. We see Uncle Sam squandering what we work so hard for on the most insane things. We see a Congress ignoring the will of the people. We see our freedoms melting away, and the core of what makes America great continuing to deteriorate.
It was an elitist excercise. You don’t have to be an expert in tax or economic data to know that your getting crushed in tax.
Tea Party protesters are the only ones that PAY taxes.
When they were making the calculations did the jackasses figure in the hidden costs associated into taxing businesses? Or the fact that the extra taxes on businesses causes them to move jobs overseas thus adding tot he tax burder as the social programs need more money due to more people being unemployed? How about the extra tax money the gorcery stores charges per item in their store to pay for the payroll taxes and capital gains for runnign their business. It all adds up, if one were to work it all out, you would find out the “hidden” costs are roughly the same amount the Tea Party protesters were quoted as saying.
I guess they think businesses pay their taxes by shaking a fairy in a jar in the smokefilled backroom and using it to magic up the extra money.
Rate of taxation as a portion of GNP is not something most PhDs would know off the top of their head. And it has nothing to do at all with:
1. The government operates at a huge deficit.
2. That deficit is in itself a tax that will be leveled on the future.
But even if rate of taxation were the only issue then we still feel the pinch and we’re T.E.A.
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