Friday, June 02, 2006

Thanks to Bush, Maybe Now We Can Talk About Progressive Taxation Without the 'Class Warfare' Nonsense

It wasn't very long ago when any talk of increasing taxes and financial burdens on the rich -- what Democrats said was making them pay their fair share -- was greeted with hoots of "class warfare" allegations from the Republicans. After a while, the general electorate came around to the Republican vision of fairness and reacted negatively to "soak the rich" appeals. (Although not the only problem with his campaign, it was a huge part of Walter Mondale's undeserved trouncing by Reagan.)

But we may be approaching a "perfect storm" for the reinvigoration of Democratic demands for a return to progressive taxation, to requirements that the rich pay their share and that the burdens on the middle and lower income families be reduced.

This coming storm is being fed by the combination of general disgust with the duplicity of the current administration, together with the Abramoff-K Street-PAC dirty money scandals, the repulsion of the middle and lower income classes with the huge benefits granted oil companies and the rich under the Republican control of the federal government, and the rising gas prices disproportionately affecting middle and lower income people.

This is suggested by the results of the Quinnipiac Poll released today gauging the national perception and impact of the rising gas prices. Big surprise, no one is happy with the oil prices today:
As a result of rising gas prices, 56 percent of American voters say they have cut back significantly on how much they drive, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Only 34 percent of voters with annual household income of more than $100,000 are driving less, compared to 67 percent of those making less than $30,000.

There are other marked differences in the response:

* 47 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats saying they are driving less;
* 52 percent of white voters, compared to 69 percent of black and Hispanic voters;
* 62 percent of women, compared to 49 percent of men.

The independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll also finds that 50 percent of American voters say they have cut back on household spending because of gas prices, with similar differences based on income, political party, gender and race.

Rising gas prices are a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem, 72 percent of voters say, with 28 percent who say "not too serious" or "not a problem at all." Again, 47 percent of upper income voters say gas prices are a problem, compared to 80 percent of lower income voters.
Looking deeper into the numbers reveals the differences in class impression and impact. While 35% of the general population view the rising gas prices as "very serious", only 24% of Republicans, 30% of whites, and 11% of those earning over $100,000 (roughly 3% of income earners) see it that way.

But, 61% of Blacks, 40% of Hispanics, and 55% of those earning less than $30,000 (70% of the working age population), would tell you that the gas prices are very serious. Gas prices have seriously eaten into the budgets of all of these groups at far greater rates than the remainder of the population, according to the Quinnipiac survey. They are also blaming Bush and big oil for the gas prices more than the rest of the country.

In the recent Pennsylvania primary, all three Democratic candidates pushed for a roll back of the Bush income tax cuts (the winner, Bob Casey, Jr., wanted the smallest rollback of the three), and one of them called for raising the top marginal income tax rate on the wealthiest citizens to 50%. Yet no where did one hear the cries of "class warfare" in response to any of the Democratic candidate proposals -- that would have been unthinkable even three years ago.

Bush may well have overplayed his economic hand in a way that will pave the way for progressive candidates to call for a return to a truly progressive tax structure without running the Mondale-like risks of being negatively branded a class warrior -- people aren't going to be buying that line this time around.

2 comments:

Conservative Goddess said...

Ah, wishful thinking on your part.

Americans understand that Karl Marx is at the heart of progressive taxation.....when the Democrats peddle progressive taxation...they only reinforce the notion that they are COMMUNISTS in disguise. Call it what you will, spin it any way you wish, but "From each according to his means..." will not sell. SWING and a MISS!

A Big Fat Slob said...

If Americans understand that Karl Marx was the progenitor of progressive taxation, they understand incorrectly.

Actually, Adam Smith advocated for a progressive tax (as did Thomas Jefferson), neither of whom can, in any stretch of imagination, be called Communist.

Karl Marx's Communicst Manifesto also supported the concept of a progressive tax. But that was after Adam Smit outlined the rationale in Welath of Nations and a Century after Jefferson supported tarriffs on luxury imports by the rich. Jefferson supported the notion of supporting the government and education for hte working class exclusively through tarrifs paid by the wealthy.

There is nothing inherently Communist or Socialist in a progressive tax system. Indeed, it is the only one which made social -- and economic -- sense.

04 June, 2006 14:00
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