Every year around early April, Fox News unpacks a phony statistic about taxpayers in order to imply that many Americans don’t pay taxes at all. They are starting a little early this year.
Neil Cavuto, the VP of business news at Fox, must know better when he alleges that 49.5% of Americans do not pay taxes. The truth is that they pay about the same tax rate as other Americans, just no “federal” taxes. And there is a good reason for that. Most of the citizens in this category are either seniors living on Social Security, students with little or no income, and the working poor who earn less than the statutory minimums to be liable for federal levies. They do, however, pay state and local taxes, sales taxes, mortgage taxes, and payroll taxes. But that doesn’t stop Fox from repeatedly asserting the lie that they pay no taxes at all.
By complaining that these disadvantaged people are tantamount to freeloaders, Cavuto is in effect advocating an increase in taxes for the poor. While he and his right-wing cohorts fight tooth and nail to protect wealthy individuals and corporations from contributing even modest amounts to the nation’s recovery, they are enthusiastically in favor of soaking the poor in order to heal the malaise on Wall Street and the misery of long-suffering bankers. It’s nice to see that these conservative, anti-tax zealots have finally found a class of people whose taxes they want to raise.
The phrase that Cavuto used repeatedly is that “everyone has [to have] skin in the game.” The arrogance dripping from that commentary is that it assumes that those not paying federal income taxes do not already have skin in the game. Cavuto thinks that people who have spent a lifetime paying into the system, and are now struggling to survive in retirement, haven’t sacrificed enough. He thinks that the unemployed would prefer to remain that way rather than find jobs and resume payments to the IRS. That’s an astoundingly stupid point of view that demonstrates just how ignorant he is of economics and the plight of people less fortunate than he is. But surprisingly, it isn’t the stupidest thing he said. In his program’s sarcastic epilogue he issued this order to the folks who are already undergoing significant hardships:
“Stop demanding benefits from a system you give nothing.”
Really? Let me get this straight. If you are so broke that you can’t pay for taxes – or housing or food – then you should not be getting any benefits from the social safety nets set up to provide housing and food for the poor? Apparently Cavuto thinks that such benefits should only go to people who already have money.
To say that the poor should stop demanding benefits because they are poor is like chastising a child for wanting to be adopted just because she’s an orphan. What a selfish freeloader. And she’s just the sort of ne’er-do-well from whom Cavuto would like to steal candy.