Luna ‘spins’ economic data

Tom Luna’s guest editorials claiming that the rich bear most of the tax burden and that Republican tax cuts don’t increase deficits were sad reminders of Republicans resisting science and misrepresenting evidence.  

In 2010 Republicans mailed candidates pamphlets showing that states that cut taxes on the rich saw an increase in per capita income. The implication was that everyone benefitted. But that’s not true. If one person earning $4 billion a year joins a population of 20,000 people making $50,000 a year, the per capita income shoots from $50,000 to $249,987 a year without anyone’s income changing.  Lower taxes for the rich may entice billionaires to the latest tax haven without helping anyone else.

Tom Luna follows suit in claiming a fact implies something that it doesn’t.  “The top 10% of Americans, in terms of income, paid over 71% of all taxes. The top 50% of Americans paid 97% of all taxes. The bottom 50%  pay just 3%. Now that’s a ‘tax-gap’.”

He clearly implies the very rich are being overtaxed and most of us are freeloaders. What these figures do prove, however, is that the rich get a lot more income than the rest of us. Of course, Luna’s figures include only income taxes where those who make more pay a higher rate. It doesn’t include all the other taxes we pay–FICA, Medicare, sales, property and others..

In April 2019 the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported that the lowest 60% of earners made 20.3% of the income and paid 16.4% of the taxes. The top 20%, on the other hand, made 61.9% of the income and paid 66.5% of the taxes. Those making nine times more income than the majority pay only a small rate more.   

And I’d laugh at Luna’s crocodile tears about the growing national debt if it weren’t a real danger.

One-fourth of the current national debt was added during the four years of the Trump administration–$7.8 trillion out of $28.5 trillion. Spending caused it?  Well, nothing got spent without approval by the President and the Republicans in Congress. Republicans complain about social security and welfare, but they siphon a lot of money to corporate donors.  . 

The national debt tripled under President Reagan–from $997.8 billion to $2.89 trillion. George W. Bush doubled it–from $5.8 trillion to $11.65–and left the economy in shambles. The debt increased by 8 trillion during Obama’s eight years–but Trump managed nearly as much in four years.    .

But one seldom hears a Republican complaint about debt increases during a Republican administration. That indicates they aren’t as afraid of the debt as they are dead set against Democratic reforms. Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill included funding sources, but, at Republican insistence, they were cut from the pared-down version. Democrats today are brainstorming new funding sources. 

Luna points to a single $14 billion increase in revenue, caused primarily by inflation, as proof that tax cuts boost the economy. Study after study, however, shows that tax cuts do not boost the economy enough to make up for lost revenue. 

Cutting taxes on the rich would make sense if the country was short on capital. It’s not. U.S. companies have trillions in off-shore banks. Decades of low wages, however, have meant sluggish growth in customer spending. . 

That’s why, during the pandemic, the Republicans didn’t pass another tax cut, but voted for a huge weekly payment for the unemployed plus bonus checks for everyone.

In a crisis, they knew further tax cuts wouldn’t help .   

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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