Sunday, October 02, 2016

Only Chumps Pay Taxes

Immediate follow-up question for both Kaine and Hillary in next debates: "Donald Trump said (and he did, on video) not paying income taxes made him smart. Does this mean all Americans who do pay income taxes are dumb?" This utterance by Trump needs to be drilled home to the TV audience, that Trump indeed said this, suggesting that all of us who pay taxes are chumps. 

Recall that the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, once infamously said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." It's as if the ultra-wealthy all believe this notion, that paying taxes is just for the "little people," the common folk, the average Joe and Jane. Affluent plutocrats are above such a base and petty act. I mean, paying taxes, HAH!! Please. 

Much of this assumed belief is linked to the whole Ayn Rand Galt-Superman idea that people like Trump and Helmsley already do enough for the little people and commoners, building companies and providing jobs. We should just be thankful and grateful for their mere existence, given all the good they bring to the world. And to then expect them to pay taxes on top of this, really?! How galling!

The New York Times is out this morning with the revelation that Trump very likely has not paid income taxes for many years, even decades. Trump's retort to all of this will be that he was and is simply following tax law, resulting in no taxes paid. Perhaps true enough, but that's not really the point here, and Hillary and Kaine should not let him off the hook so easily. 

For one, Hillary/Kaine need to remind the public that the top 1% hardly ever pay the "advertised" top bracket tax rate. Just ask gazzillionaire Warren Buffett. He's at least honest enough to admit the reality of our tax code. In fact, at most companies, the mid- to lower-level employees are most likely paying a higher income tax rate than the upper-level management executives. It's one of America's dirty little secrets.

But more so, the real problem is Trump's tone and attitude when it comes to paying taxes. By saying aloud that he's "smart" to not pay taxes, it strongly infers that those who do are idiots. Nice. How patriotic. So who's left to fund schools, police and fire departments, the fixing of roads, libraries, etc.? Yup, the average citizen (read: not rich). 

And yet many of Trump's supporters are exactly the people he looks down upon and scoffs at for paying taxes. He has successfully brainwashed (too) many that he is an "outsider" and that he is one of them, a "plain talker" who tells it like it is. 

Yawn. To paraphrase H.L Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.


jdmeth said...

So the rich should not be able to use the tax code to figure out how much or little to pay. Some tax arbitrator should just go over their financial statements and impose a sufficiently large tax on them. Got it.

Grey Matter said...

Not the point. We all understand the tax laws are what they are, and no one said what Trump did do (or did not -- again he hasn't released his tax returns) was illegal. Rather as I wrote, this idea that the top 1% actually pay the actual highest tax bracket is a joke. If you are in the top 1% and you are paying the top rate, you have a very bad accountant. That was what Buffett was saying. It's a matter of truth in advertising and fairness.

Grey Matter said...