Home/Daniel Larison/Not Paying Income Tax Represents Relief from Government

Not Paying Income Tax Represents Relief from Government

Jim Antle makes the point I was trying to make yesterday:

There is little evidence that the people who have stopped paying income tax as a result of Republicans’ policies have moved leftward politically.

Today married parents of children, the kind of people who benefit from the child tax credit, are actually Romney’s strongest supporters [bold mine-DL].

Correct. These are some of the people that Romney described as those that see themselves as victims, and cannot be convinced to take “personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Conservatives are always complaining about elites that look down them and have no respect for them, so they should have no difficulty recognizing unvarnished elite contempt as unmistakable as this.

These comments also reflect Romney’s political ineptitude. A significant portion of the 47% that don’t pay income tax were already going to vote for him. They aren’t out of reach, and they aren’t going to vote for Obama “no matter what.” Many of them would probably never vote for Obama, and their reasons might have nothing to do with taxes or benefits. They are already on his side, and Romney doesn’t even seem to know it. What makes the remarks even less defensible is that Romney should want as few Americans paying taxes as possible. Not paying income tax isn’t a gateway to government dependency. It’s supposed to represent relief from government.

Antle continues:

As National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru put it, “Conservatives cannot really believe that it was a flaw in America’s founding that nobody paid income taxes to the federal government for almost all of the country’s history before the welfare state.”

Indeed, quite a few conservatives today would ideally prefer an arrangement in which the federal government didn’t have the ability to levy such taxes. Antle then asks:

Since when has it been the job of Republicans and conservatives to make sure everyone has IRS obligations?

If Romney didn’t understand what he was talking about, that isn’t very encouraging, either, since it suggests he has no idea who has benefited from Republican tax policy in the past. If we wanted to be extremely generous, we could say that Romney was just confused and jumbled together things that don’t go together and adopted a nonsensical position by mistake. That is hardly a recommendation of Romney’s understanding of the relevant issues.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles