I see where Joe Scarborough went and made a ranting fool of himself this morning, accusing President Obama of mind-boggling hypocrisy for paying an effective federal tax rate of just 18.4 percent in 2012. The clip below was helpfully posted by the National Republican Congressional Committee, apparently because the NRCC agrees with Scarborough and wants to help spread the message.
I'm not sure what to make of that. Apparently, Scarborough and his friends at NRCC believe that Obama pays too little in taxes. You know who agrees with that? Me. More importantly, Barack Obama does too. He has said so repeatedly.
He said it in his 2012 State of the Union:
"We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes."
He said it at tax time a year ago:
"Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? That’s the choice.”
He said it during the campaign:
"So that’s why I believe it’s time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans — folks like myself — to expire. (Applause.) And, by the way, I might feel differently — because it’s not like I like to pay taxes — (laughter) — I might feel differently if we were still in surplus. But we’ve got this huge deficit, and everybody agrees that we need to do something about these deficits and these debts. "
Scarborough also accused Obama of ripping Mitt Romney for paying so little in taxes. That too is grossly off-base. The Obama campaign ripped Romney for paying so little in taxes, complaining that those taxes were still too high and proposing a variety of policies to lower them further. There's a difference.
Scarborough couched his rant as a defense of small business owners allegedly threatened by higher taxes. (You get the sense that "small business owner" was a more politically acceptable victim than Scarborough's real concern, which was Joe Scarborough.) The implication was that Obama wanted to raise taxes on small business owners while protecting people such as himself.
Again, that was grossly off-base. Ninety-seven percent of small business owners make less than $250,000, well below the level of those affected by most of Obama's revenue proposals. Many in that remaining 3 percent are people such as hedge-fund operators, attorneys, entertainers and others whose businesses may be small in the number of people employed but not in the amount of money they make.
As Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union:
"Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. We can get this done. The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring -- a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t work the system and pay a lower rate than their hardworking secretaries."
If Scarborough and the NRCC agree with Obama, I think we can get a deal done. But of course, they don't.
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