Taxes Are the Price We Pay for Civilization Joe Biden


Call off the search-and-rescue teams! Democratic vice presidential Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), last seen having a Bette Davis as Baby Jane moment with a wheelchair-bound political supporter and questioning the wisdom of his even being on the ticket (Hillary Clinton, he told a rally, "might have been a better pick than me"), has surfaced again.

This time, the Delaware destroyer is telling rich folks that paying taxes is patriotic:

"We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Noting that wealthier Americans would indeed pay more, Biden said: "It's time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."

More here.

Regarding the Obama and McCain proposed tax plans, analysis from the Tax Policy Center says:

Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years, according to a newly updated analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Compared to current law, TPC estimates the Obama plan would cut taxes by $2.9 trillion from 2009-2018. McCain would reduce taxes by nearly $4.2 trillion. Obama would give larger tax cuts to low- and moderate-income households and pay some of the cost by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers. In contrast, McCain would cut taxes across the board and give the biggest cuts to the highest-income households.

Full PDF report, with really great charts of average per-income-quintile changes I couldn't reproduce here for some technical reason.

The short version of the tax plans of both candidates is that Obama would ding top-income earners while giving larger breaks to lower-income earners. McCain wouldn't ding top-income earners. Here's one analysis based on Tax Policy Center sources:

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, 60 percent of taxpayers make about $66,000 or less a year.

Under McCain's plan, you'd see anywhere from a 0.2% to 0.7% tax cut, which means you'd save anwhere from $19 to $319 dollars a year.

Under Obama's plan, tax cuts would range from 2.4% to 5.5%.  You'd save between about $570.00 dollars up to $1,042.00.

But what if you're somewhere in the middle, which means you're making anywhere from $66,000 all the way up to $227,000.

"I think McCain and Obama will do about the same for the middle grouping but what you'll get in exchange is more debt on the backs of our children," said [economist Mark] Pingle.

Now for the top tier earners.  Under McCain's plan, those earning between $227,000 or more will see the biggest tax cuts.

But under Obama's plan, the wealthiest Americans will either see no change or higher taxes, to the tune of more than $700,000 a year.

More here.

I actually don't understand that last line on the sentence level; I guess it means that Bill Gates might be hit for an extra 700K?

But here's a basic question: Assume you're making $50,000 a year. Does the difference between a $319 break and $1,042 get you going as a voter? I would prefer to pay less taxes in any given situation, but I'm interested in how voters process this sort of information, assuming they consume it in the first place. What's the price point for a tax cut? Or a tax increase?

Or assume you're making $500,000 a year. Does the idea of your taxes staying flat or going up by, say, $5,000, get you moving? Or would it need to be much bigger of an increase before you vote your pocketbook? (This latter question is the topic of the excellent 2002 collection edited by Joel Slemrod, Does Atlas Shrug?: The Economic Consequences of Taxing the Rich).

At the same time, we shouldn't lose sight that Joe Biden is right: From a purely strategic position, Hillary Clinton would have been a better pick than he was.