Coming attractions

I’ve heard Rush Limbaugh explain to his audience, which is presumably comprised of mortal beings, why they should consider health care a privilege, and not a right. I’ve heard him explain to his audience, which presumably contains its share of low- and middle-income workers, why tax cuts for the wealthy benefit all Americans.

But I can’t wait to hear him try to sell this:

As the Bush administration draws up plans to simplify the tax system, it is also refining arguments for why it may be necessary to shift more of the tax load onto lower-income workers.

Economists at the Treasury Department are drafting new ways to calculate the distribution of tax burdens among different income classes, which are expected to highlight what administration officials see as a rising tax burden on the rich and a declining burden on the poor. The White House Council of Economic Advisers is also preparing a report detailing the concentration of the tax burden on the affluent and highlighting problems with the way tax burdens are calculated for the poor.

It’s the “Lucky Duckies” thing unfolding.. But you know, even as I wrote this cartoon, there was still part of me thinking, nah, they wouldn’t really…would they?

I mean — they’re going to seriously start arguing that what this country really needs is an upper income tax cut coupled with a middle- and lower-income tax increase?

And not only that — but they’re talking about it a week and a half before Christmas?

Talk about tone deaf. This one’s barely out of the gate, and already they’re tying themselves in knots:

Answering critics who say the working poor do face high taxes because they pay high Social Security payroll taxes, outgoing White House economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey told the AEI tax forum that the 12.4 percent Social Security levy should not be considered when tax burdens are calculated. Lindsey said the Social Security tax is ultimately returned to the taxpayer as a benefit.


When administration officials pushed the need to create private investment accounts to supplement Social Security, they specifically warned that taxes paid into Social Security would not necessarily be returned unless the system was reformed.

William W. Beach, an economist at the Heritage Foundation think tank, said he was sympathetic to Lindsey’s argument that the Social Security tax is not really a tax. But, he said, it was a dangerous argument for a Republican to make.

“Do I allow defense spending to offset my income taxes since I like to be defended? Do I allow road taxes to offset my profits taxes because I use the roads?” he asked. “If you do start down that road, it’s hard to see anything as taxes.”