NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 15, 2004

Removing the income tax burden on Americans at the lower end of the earnings spectrum -- families earning less than $50,000 a year -- is undesirable, says Walter Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University.

In general, says Williams, a tax cut for anybody, at any time, for any reason is a good thing because it keeps more of our earnings in our pockets and out of Washington. But there's a problem. Removing so many Americans from federal income tax liability contributes to the political problem we're witnessing this election: class warfare and the politics of envy.

When 122 million Americans are outside of the federal income tax system, they become a natural spending constituency for big government. After all, if you have no income tax liability, how much do you care about how much Congress spends and the level of taxation? Calls for tax cuts fall upon deaf ears. Surveys reveal this:

  • According to a Harris Poll taken in June 2003, 51 percent of Democrats thought the tax cuts enacted by Congress were a bad thing, while 16 percent of Republicans thought so.
  • Among Democrats, 67 percent thought the tax cuts were unfair, while 32 percent of Republicans thought so.
  • When asked whether the $350 billion tax-cut package will help your family finances, 59 percent of those surveyed said no and 35 percent said yes.

Tax cuts to many Americans mean just one thing: They threaten the handouts they receive, says Williams.

He recommends that every American regardless of any other consideration should have one vote in any federal election. Then, every American should get one additional vote for every $10,000 he pays in federal income tax. With such a system, there'd be a modicum of linkage between one's financial stake in our country and his decision-making capacity.

Source: Walter E. Williams, "Danger of no tax liability," Investor's Business Daily, September 15, 2004.


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