As a rule, columnists generally do not like to riff on other people’s product but rather create one’s own. Sometimes one is just forced to do so because of the message put out by others that have a significant position in the journalistic world. Those people do a disservice by providing misleading information on a subject with which you are well versed, and they must be countered.
Catherine Rampell is a staff opinion writer for the Washington Post who is syndicated. She has the same economic background as Jared Bernstein who has been a spokesperson for President Biden and now is the nominee for Chair of Council of Economic Advisers – that is none. Her degree from Princeton was in Anthropology.
I don’t know why she is considered an economics “expert.” I don’t know whether she has read The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith or Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Freedom. Yet she regularly opines on financial subjects and this time she has hit on the IRS and whether we are overtaxed.
In her column, Sorry Democrats You Cannot Pay for Everything by Soaking the Rich https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/04/11/irs-tax-burden-american-misperception/, she starts by stating “You probably don’t want to hear this, but your taxes are probably too low.”
She then lurches into a chart that shows most Americans disagree. How can that be since 57.1% of Americans paid no income tax in 2021 according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Since at the time of the poll most Americans had paid zero federal taxes, how could a majority think they are overtaxed? What significance can the poll provide to us? Since the Biden Administration has been instrumental in accelerating the rate of people who are untaxed and Rampell is a declared liberal, who exactly is she pointing her arrows at?
Then she lurches into attacking her favorite subjects, Trump and the rich. She does what the aggrieved ignorant always do; she confuses tax rates with taxes paid. Certainly, Trump cut the tax rates as Reagan and Kennedy had before him. Each time the federal revenues increased significantly. Four years after the Trump tax rate adjustments federal revenues increased 20% and that is in the heart of the pandemic.
Then Rampell in knee-jerk liberal fashion attacks the Republicans and the rich for the idea that taxes are too high. She fully endorses more taxes on a “small sliver” of population – three percent making over $400,000. Uncle Joe says they are only paying 8% of their income as taxes. It could not be further from the truth.
William McBride of the Tax Foundation wrote the following, “High income taxpayers… pay the highest tax rates, according to the IRS. The average income tax rate in 2020 was 13.6 percent. The top 5 percent of taxpayers paid a 22.4 percent average rate while the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 26.0 percent average rate—more than eight times higher than the 3.1 percent average rate paid by the bottom half of taxpayers. The top 0.001 percent, or the richest 1,575 tax returns filed in 2020, paid nearly $71 billion in income taxes and had an average tax rate of 23.7 percent.”
Rampell dives into a regular canard of liberals; other countries pay more taxes than we do. First: your point is? Second: who cares? More importantly she ignores the fact many Americans are paying state taxes on top of the federal taxes, a feature in few if any of those “other countries.” Add in property taxes, which can be quite high for most people in America.
Interestingly, the Winston-Salem Journal picked up the column and titled it more correctly, Sorry My Fellow Americans your taxes are probably too low.
To Rampell’s credit in the penultimate paragraph she states a rare commonsense comment from a liberal. She states: “Alas, there’s not remotely enough money on those would-be money trees to pay for all the things that Democrats want. Or even the things that past Congresses have already committed to.” Hallelujah, a WAPO columnist and liberal has reached the promised land. It is not a revenue problem; it is an expenditure problem, and our elected officials must have a come to Moses moment and get some reality.
In the meantime, her paper and the rest of the Left are harpooning Speaker McCarthy for saying and advocating the exact policy she proposed above. At least, amongst her mess of a column there is hope. Now, Ms. Rampell, go sell that one salient thought to your comrades.