Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, defended the House Republican budget at a tax policy summit yesterday — as well as the broader idea that taxes on the wealthy need to be cut while taxes on lower-income Americans should be raised. When asked by ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes to square the GOP’s explicit desire to cut taxes for the rich with the fact that it’s budget would raise taxes on low-income working Americans, Tiberi responded by saying that to do otherwise would be to “beat up on people who are trying to be successful.” He then made the case for raising taxes on the poor by lamenting that they don’t have any “skin in the game”:
TIBERI: I think the federal government has an obligation to make sure that we deal with people who have difficulties. But at the same time, the tax code shouldn’t be used as a tool to just bring revenue in and beat up people who are trying to be successful…So I think we’ve got to lower the tax rates, both for corporations and for American individuals. And let them try to grow our economy and grow jobs so people like you and me can have an opportunity to work.
KEYES: But you’re only talking about lowering tax rates on individuals in the upper income areas. You’re talking about raising taxes…
TIBERI: Well, it’s hard to lower taxes on people who don’t pay taxes. As you know, you have the Earned Income Tax Credit, so you have folks who are actually getting a check and not paying income tax…If you don’t have skin in the game, even if it’s ten bucks a quarter, I think it changes the debate on what the role of the federal government is and what the role of state government is.
The budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), defended by Tiberi, and passed by the House Republicans, would cut taxes for millionaires by an average of $187,000 in 2014 alone, even if tax expenditures are eliminated to offset the revenue loss. Meanwhile, it would allow tax cuts on low-income Americans, passed in response to the economic collapse, to expire. Families making $30,000 or less would see their after-tax income fall, in some cases by as much as 2 percent, while those making over $1 million would see it rise by 12.5 percent.
Furthermore more than two-thirds of Americans who don’t pay income taxes still have “skin in the game” due to payroll taxes. Payroll tax receipts contributed $865 billion in revenue in 2010 — almost equal to the $899 billion contributed by income taxes. Adding up both payroll and income taxes, less than one quarter of Americans owe none of either, and the vast majority of them are poor, in school, or elderly and retired.