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Accountability

November 17, 2010

A premise of accountability is that people should believe what they are saying is true.

Speaking in a recent Today Show interview, Representative Michele Bachmann argued that extending the Bush tax cuts for incomes over $250,000 was good for the working class.  As her example she said that a plumber or a carpet layer with three employees could easily have revenue that was over $250,000 and increasing taxes on that amount would be detrimental to their business.

Seriously?  I can think of only two reasons she would say something so ludicrous. One, she doesn’t understand the difference between revenue and income or two, she knows the difference and is simply knowingly making a false statement to advance her opposition to not extending the tax cuts for incomes above $250,000.

Just to be clear, if Joe the plumber has elected to organize as an S corp then profits, not gross revenue,  from his business are classified as personal income.  Even if Joe’s business had an annual revenue of a million dollars once his all of the business expenses were paid his income would likely be much less than $250,000.  If not, then pass me the PVC.

Factually incorrect or misleading statements that go unchallenged are the fodder for the tea party.  It seems inconsistent and sometimes amusing to see true middle class protesters supporting the position that enriches the wealthy.  Why is it that someone making less than $100,000 is so passionate about taxes that do not affect them?  Although statistically very unlikely, maybe it’s because they believe in the American Dream and trust that some day, they too will be in that top tax bracket.

There are many solid arguments for not extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy not the least of which is how to pay for them.  But would it hurt the economy if the wealthy pay an extra 3% on income over $250,000?  Probably not.  Robert Reich has persuasively argued (1,2) that the workers are the ones that really drive the economy by having the ability to consume what they produce.  And, would extending the tax cuts be good for small business?  To the contrary, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center (3) takes the position that it would be bad for business on several fronts.

As long as we have the Bachmanns of the country making baseless statements that go unchallenged we will never have the opportunity to have a real dialog about the issues.  So why does she do it?  Simple.  It keeps her in the spot light, people blog about her and she gets re-elected.  In the end that’s what it’s all about for politicians of both parties- keeping their own job.  That will never change.  However, once the electorate starts thinking critically for themselves the era of the  demagogues will be over because the ridiculousness of their statements will become apparent.

1. http://robertreich.org/post/1163051320
2. http://www.amazon.com/Aftershock-Next-Economy-Americas-Future/dp/0307592812

3. http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/bush-tax-cuts/small-business.cfm

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