GOP Eyes Tax Increases for Low-Income Workers

Republicans are not, strictly speaking, a party obsessed with cutting taxes. The caricature is rooted in fact, but it’s incomplete – Republicans are actually a party committed to cutting taxes on the wealthy.

This has been an underappreciated aspect of the GOP vision for several years. Indeed, it was part of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” problem a few years ago – the Republican presidential hopeful complained, among other things, about the millions of families who “pay no income tax.” A wide variety of GOP officeholders, candidates, and pundits have made related complains about the poor not having “skin in the game” because their tax burdens simply aren’t significant enough.
It’s against this backdrop that Shaila Dewan reported the other day that some Republican-led states are “considering tax changes that in many cases would have the effect of cutting taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor.”
Kansas has already experimented with shifting tax burdens downward – away from the wealthy and towards those with lower incomes – and the results have been pretty disastrous.
As an economic matter, this GOP approach is discredited nonsense. As a political matter, I’m not sure how Republican politicians are going to be able to sell, “We want to ask less of the wealthy and more from the poor.”
But as a rhetorical matter, let’s not forget that Republicans have spent the last few months arguing, with varying degrees of sincerity, that the party is now suddenly concerned with chronic economic inequalities. Despite decades of arguments that rejected the very idea of noticing wealth gaps, GOP leaders, left with no other coherent economic arguments, decided to focus on the “problem” of prosperity benefiting “job creators” over the poor.
Except such talk looks pretty silly when the party is also pushing for higher taxes on those with lower incomes and lower taxes on those with higher incomes.