The list of political mantra is inexhaustible. Allow me to list a few from the right:
* “Liberal Media”. “Liberal Press” (in the Nixon days)
* “No new Taxes!”
* “Compassionate Conservatives”
* “Moral Majority”
* “Job Creators”
* “Are you better off now, than…..?”
* ” Kept us safe”
* ” Drill, Baby, Drill”
* “Taking the fight to the Terrorists”
* “American exceptionalism”
* “Death Panels”
* “Class Warfare”
* “Ponzi Scheme”
OK, point made. However, in fairness I should list one very popular slogan from the Left.
* “It’s the economy stupid”
I think it rather obvious that the majority of ’mantra slinging’ is from the right.
Here’s another one that’s been going around for the last three years, “51% of Our Nation Pays No Federal Tax”. Of course, the talking point is designed to vilify the poor. My curiosity took me to a recent article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). I wanted to know if it was true and if it was true, how.
The CBPP has published volumes of information on the topic. I located so much information, I dare not attempt to summarize or even paste information here. A few bullets and a couple of charts should place the GOP mantra ‘squarely into the realm’ of “True but shaky at best when making their point”. Each bullet, below, is accompanied by specific information that explains the bullet point.
RELATED AREAS OF RESEARCH
A recent finding by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation that 51 percent of households owed no federal income tax in 2009  is being used to advance the argument that low-and moderate-income families do not pay sufficient taxes. Apart from the fact that most of those who make this argument also call for maintaining or increasing all of the tax cuts of recent years for people at the top of the income scale, the 51 percent figure, its significance, and its policy implications are widely misunderstood.
- The 51 percent figure is an anomaly that reflects the unique circumstances of 2009, when the recession greatly swelled the number of Americans with low incomes and when temporary tax cuts created by the 2009 Recovery Act — including the “Making Work Pay” tax credit and an exclusion from tax of the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits — were in effect.
- The 51 percent figure covers only the federal income tax and ignores the substantial amounts of other federal taxes — especially the payroll tax — that many of these households pay .
- This percentage would be even lower if federal excise taxes on gasoline and other items were taken into account.
- Most of the people who pay neither federal income tax nor payroll taxes are low-income people who are elderly, unable to work due to a serious disability, or students, most of whom subsequently become taxpayers.
- Moreover, low-income households as a whole do, in fact, pay federal taxes.
- When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account,the bottom fifth of households paid 16.3 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average, in 2010. The second-poorest fifth paid 20.7 percent.
- The majority of EITC recipients receive the credit for only one or two years at a time, such as when their incomes drop due to a temporary layoff; they pay federal income tax in other years.
- The federal tax system is progressive overall, but state and local tax systems are regressive and undo a significant share of that progressivity.