What was once merely an outlandish disparity in numbers between those who benefit from U.S. income tax policy and those who actually pay the taxes, is now on its way to its largest and most disturbing level in history. So many voters today pay no income tax that there is little natural incentive within the electorate to keep the cost of government low, to set reasonable spending priorities or to vote for anyone other than a redistributionist Democrat. Rather than trumped-up publicity stunts, I hope that the Tea Party rallies tomorrow will shine a light on this problem above all others. In an article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal Ari Fleischer, a former Bush press secretary writes:
According to the CBO, those who made less than $44,300 in 2001 — 60% of the country — paid a paltry 3.3% of all income taxes. By 2005, almost all of them were excused from paying any income tax. They paid less than 1% of the income tax burden. Their share shrank even when taking into account the payroll tax. In 2001, the bottom 60% paid 16.3% of all taxes; by 2005 their share was down to 14.3%. All the while, this large group of voters made 25.8% of the nation’s income.
When you make almost 26% of the income and you pay only 0.6% of the income tax, that’s a good deal, courtesy of those who do pay income taxes. For the bottom 40%, the redistribution deal is even better. In 2001, these 43 million Americans, who earn less than $30,500, made 13.5% of the nation’s income but paid no income tax. Instead, they received checks from their taxpaying neighbors worth $16.3 billion. By 2005, those checks totaled $33.3 billion.
Not that this is an entirely new phenomenon; however, the situation in which we find ourselves today, to a far greater extreme devalues work, undermines success, and is at bottom, fundamentally corrupt and debilitating. The pendulum has swung too far in a direction that can only lead to a self-perpetuating and thuggish majority, voting themselves no taxes, but only benefits to be paid for by the minority who are taxpayers.