The rationale behind the conservative support for raising taxes on America’s lowest earners is from another report that shows that between 47% and 51% of Americans did not pay taxes in 2010. Many Republicans point to this statistic, with the majority of those not paying taxes being the lowest earners, as evidence that taxes need to be increased on the them so that everyone shares the tax burden. As Sen. John Cornryn (R-TX) said on the Senate floor, “to show how out of whack things have gotten, 30 percent of American households actually made money from the tax system by way of refundable tax credits -- the earned income tax credit, among others.”
Many Republicans have pointed to those in the lowest earning bracket as getting a “free ride” on government money, rather than struggling to break out of the lowest fifth income bracket. Of course this scapegoating of the poor, that the poorest people are just lazy and used to receiving government handouts, is a holdover from the Reagan administration when many in the GOP complained about “Welfare Queens”. However, this is a different world, and with people living in poverty the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, there are a number of systemic and institutionalized issues that Republicans are ignoring in calling for a tax hike on our low-income earners.
Foreclosures, corporate restructuring, layoffs, and skyrocketing medical bills are just some of the systemic problems that are contributing to near record unemployment. To continue to characterize a growing portion of the middle-class that is negatively socially mobile is an irresponsible neglect of the facts. It’s easy for people with jobs, with incomes, and without the need for government assistance to deride the growing class of people living below the poverty line. It’s much more difficult to look at a system that’s already benefiting you, and to show enough compassion that you fix the system to benefit everyone.