The conservative mind is a wonderous thing to behold, especially when it’s the Washington Post’s best mind, George Will.
In a column that starts out ranting about how voracious is the payroll tax that virtually every worker must pay, George Will takes only two paragraphs to forget what he just wrote and proceeds to share goofy GOPer Dave Camp’s lament that so many people have such low incomes that they’re not subject to income tax. Ah, if we could only tax the poor, because, you know, there are now so many more of them. What could be simpler?
Hence, Will and Camp agree, we have this terrible moral hazard in which people don’t have “skin in the game” to hold government accountable, forgetting these same people still pay this supposedly voracious payroll tax that captures more of their income as it goes up and even though they also pay property taxes, gasoline taxes, general sales taxes and a dozen other fees and charges that contribute to government and public infrastructure, including feeding parking meters and paying bridge and highway tolls.
Never mind that workers likely don’t mind paying a payroll tax — the polls confirm they’d even support exposing more of their (and Will’s) incomes to that tax — when it’s explained to them this is their savings that they will get back with interest via Social Security, unless people like Dave Camp and his new friends Simpson, Obama & Bowles steal it from them. Now there’s a moral hazard.
Government accountability sounds like a good idea; we should try it. So I suppose we should mention that the bipartisan conservative majority that rules the country has now fully accepted an entire decade of fraudulent, criminal conduct by banks, loan shark “education” institutions (go Kaplan!), health insurers and medical providers, mass polluters, corporations making and Congresspeople accepting bribes and wholesale Constitutional violations by the executive branch, and we can’t seem to indict anyone who was responsible. Please pay the fines. But for heaven’s sake, let’s fix the tax system to make government accountable.
But to clinch that a mind is a terrible thing to waste on a conservative columnist, Will neglects to mention that the payroll tax that negates the moral hazard and puts real skin in the game was just cut by a third, at Republican insistence — with all of Camp’s friends voting Yah!, and replaced with . . . nothing. Or more accurately, it will be replaced by a Ben Bernanke helicopter drop that will be confused with the dreaded deficit spending, so that the electronic ledgers at the SS Trust Fund don’t miss a cent — and Dave Camp’s Party thought that was just swell.
Or perhaps some merely thought making an outfight gift of a cool $100 billion with a trillion more to follow to the richest folks, many of whom just tanked the economy and are still looting the country, is how you make taxes simpler and government more accountable. As the incoming GOP Chair of the banking committee reminds us, it’s his job to service the bankers, so he will. Mindless.