'Skin in the game', by Steve Benen: If there's one unshakable, unwavering rule in American politics in the 21st century, it's this: Republicans oppose any tax increases on anyone by any amount for any reason, no matter the consequences. Full stop.
There is, however, a pesky little asterisk tied to this rule that often goes overlooked: a whole lot of Republicans support tax hikes on the poor. Indeed, the House Republican budget plan, as written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), actually increases the tax burden on those at the very bottom of the income scale.
ThinkProgress' Scott Keyes asked Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, about this yesterday. Tiberi stressed the need for low-income families, many of whom have no federal income tax burden at all, to have some "skin in the game." ... Mitt Romney told voters in Florida last year, "I think it's a real problem when you have half of Americans, almost half of Americans, that are not paying [federal] income tax." ...
When Democrats want millionaires to pay a little more, it's socialism. When Republicans want the poor to pay a little more, it's just helping these low-income Americans have some "skin in the game."
Welcome to class warfare, Republican style.
In case anyone's forgotten, the relevant details matter here: millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes. It's not as if these folks are getting away with something -- the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don't make enough money to qualify. Indeed, many are retirees who can't earn an income because they're no longer in the workforce.
But for many Republicans, including the party's presidential candidate,... the only way to correct this problem is by increasing the tax burdens of those least able to afford it.
Republican politicians making these claims know that most people do pay taxes of some sort, that those who don't are largely the elderly, that the number rose considerably due to the recession, and so on, but facts and figures are not the point. The message is "Dear hard-working middle-class America (all the while nodding to the wealthy supporters of the party): There is a group of deadbeats out there -- the social insurance system turned them into lazy good for nothings living off the system -- who are taking hard-earned tax dollars, your tax dollars, they don't deserve. Unlike the Democrats who want to give these people even more of your money and make things even worse, we will protect you." Or something like that. The you to be protected is really the wealthy, but the message sells more broadly.
It's a highly misleading claim, aided and abetted by poor press coverage and rebuttal (particularly at news sites such as Fox that cater to this group). But the fact that a claim doesn't withstand scrutiny never stopped Republicans from making self-serving arguments in the past (e.g. tax cuts pay for themselves), and it won't stop them now.