JAN 20, 2012 AT 06:30 PM PST
Majority of Americans okay with the taxes they pay, want wealthy to pay more
(Pew Research Center)
Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist might rule Republicans, but he’s way off base.
Americans feel pretty good about their tax bills. You wouldn’t know it from all the talk in Washington and on the campaign trail about overhauling the tax code, slashing rates on personal income, or creating a flatter tax system.
They feel so pleased, in fact, that a slight majority of Americans – 52 percent – think they pay the right amount of taxes, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. The number of people who feel that they pay more than their fair share of taxes dropped from 55 percent in 2000 to 38 percent in 2011. It’s a sentiment so popular across party lines that it prompted the Pew Research Center to write: “Very few Republicans, Democrats, or independents cite the amount they themselves pay as their chief complaint.” [...]
Overwhelmingly, Democrats surveyed by Pew are most irritated by the perception that the wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes. Seventy-two percent of them cited it as the most irksome quirk of the U.S. tax system, shared by 38 percent of Republicans: a theme that President Obama seems to be capitalizing on as income inequality becomes one of the major themes of his re-election strategy.
Getting this right and bringing some sanity back to the tax code isn’t just good politics, it’s essential policy.
Tax revenues now represent just 14.4 percent of the GDP, according to the Office of Management and Budget, compared to a high of 20.6 percent in 2000. Over the past 25 years, the number of individual tax breaks known as tax expenditures has ballooned, giving people deductions on everything from mortgage interest and charitable donations to state and local taxes. In fiscal year 2011, tax expenditures cost the federal government $1.1 trillion, or 7.6 percent of the GDP, compared to 1976 when they accounted for just 4.2 percent of the GDP.
The nation can’t afford the Bush tax code anymore, and most of America (Norquist and his minions aside) get that.