Reagan Adviser Shows How Tea Baggers Are Misinformed About Taxes

I’ve noted many times before that the Tea Party movement is being manipulated by the far right into believing falsehoods such as that Barack Obama increased their taxes and falsely believing that the Democrats, as opposed to the Republicans, are responsible for running up most of deficit. Bruce Bartlett, a former adviser to Ronald Reagan, has written about how misinformed they are regarding taxes based upon answers to a recent survey. After reviewing specific errors in their views he summarized:

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.

Tea Partyers also seem to have a very distorted view of the direction of federal taxes. They were asked whether they are higher, lower or the same as when Barack Obama was inaugurated last year. More than two-thirds thought that taxes are higher today, and only 4% thought they were lower; the rest said they are the same.

As noted earlier, 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.

According to the JCT, last year’s $787 billion stimulus bill, enacted with no Republican support, reduced federal taxes by almost $100 billion in 2009 and another $222 billion this year. The Tax Policy Center, a private research group, estimates that close to 90% of all taxpayers got a tax cut last year and almost 100% of those in the $50,000 income range. For those making between $40,000 and $50,000, the average tax cut was $472; for those making between $50,000 and $75,000, the tax cut averaged $522. No taxpayer anywhere in the country had his or her taxes increased as a consequence of Obama’s policies.

It’s hard to explain this divergence between perception and reality. Perhaps these people haven’t calculated their tax returns for 2009 yet and simply don’t know what they owe. Or perhaps they just assume that because a Democrat is president that taxes must have gone up, because that’s what Republicans say that Democrats always do. In fact, there hasn’t been a federal tax increase of any significance in this country since 1993.

After looking further at their misconceptions, Bartlett concluded:

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.

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15 Comments

  1. 1
    Bob says:

    See how much Obama cut YOUR taxes by (without a single conserva-puke vote) http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot #Obama

  2. 2
    Karoli says:

    RT @nNomad_: See how much Obama cut YOUR taxes by (without a single conserva-puke vote) http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot #Obama

  3. 3
    Bob says:

    @greensquirel See how much Obama cut YOUR taxes by (without a single conserva-puke vote) http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot #Obama

  4. 4
    Landen Gailey says:

    RT @Karoli: RT @nNomad_: See how much Obama cut YOUR taxes http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot #Taxes

  5. 5
    Ernie Logan says:

    RT @nNomad_: See how much Obama cut YOUR taxes by (without a single conserva-puke vote) http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot #Obama

  6. 6
    topsy_top20k says:

    Reagan Adviser Bruce Bartlett Shows How Tea Baggers Are Misinformed About Taxes http://bit.ly/dhz6wc #p2

  7. 7
    Bob says:

    @JanSimpson Yes, Obama cut taxes – from pen of a Reagan speechwriter http://bit.ly/cYvaGA But the proof is irrelevant to conserva-pukes #p2

  8. 8
    Bob says:

    Reagan Adviser Shows How Tea Baggers Are Misinformed About Taxes http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot

  9. 9
    Bob says:

    The Tax Policy Center, prvt research group, estimates close to 90% of all taxpayers got a tax cut last year http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot

  10. 10
    jah08 says:

    RT @nNomad_: Reagan Adviser Shows How Tea Baggers Are Misinformed About Taxes http://bit.ly/cYvaGA #p2 #tcot

  11. 11
    Bob says:

    @Conservativeind Reagan Adviser Shows Tea Baggers Are Misinformed About Taxes http://bit.ly/cYvaGA Hope and change is working great! #p2

  12. 12
    oso says:

    Bartlett writes a good column. He wrote a book very critical of GWB, “Impostor”.

  13. 13
    Michael Ehline says:

    » Reagan Adviser Shows How Tea Baggers Are Misinformed About Taxes … http://bit.ly/cN5g84

  14. 14
    cognitive dissident says:

    Bartlett’s subtitle about the Teabaggers, “For an antitax group, they don’t know much about taxes,” could easily spawn several parallels:

    For a political group, they don’t know much about political science; for a deficit-hating group, they don’t know much about who ran up the debt; for a Christianist group, they don’t know much about the social and economic justice messages of Jesus…it could be quite a long list.

  15. 15
    Serious Implications says:

    Bartlett’s solid as a rock. We need more like him.

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