Friday, September 21, 2012

The "47%"

Annie Lowrey and Michael Cooper at NYT:

For a long time, cutting taxes for the poor was a major emphasis of the Republican Party. One reason that many poor people no longer pay federal income taxes is that they qualify for credits such as the earned-income tax credit, which has its roots in conservative thinking and has long been supported by members of both parties as a way to help the poor without increasing welfare payments or raising the minimum wage. The credit was added to the tax code when Gerald Ford was president, and was expanded by Republicans and Democrats, including President Ronald Reagan, who called it “one of the best anti-poverty programs this country has ever seen” in 1986. 

President George W. Bush, for his part, doubled the child tax credit, and his tax cuts erased the federal income tax liability for millions of households...

Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute argues that entitlements are corrupting America in his forthcoming book “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.” But he says that the growth of entitlement spending over the past half century has been greater under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. 

“Between 1960 and 2010, the growth of entitlement spending was exponential,” he wrote in a recent excerpt published by The Wall Street Journal, “but in any given year, it was on the whole roughly 8 percent higher if the president happened to be a Republican rather than a Democrat.” 

The states with the highest percentage of federal filers who do not owe income taxes tend to vote Republican in presidential elections. An analysis by the Tax Foundation found that in 2008 the state with the highest percentage of federal filers with no tax liability was Mississippi, and that most of the states with the highest percentage of filers with no liability were in the South.