On today's episode of Fox News' Cashin' In, Fox Business employees Cheryl Casone and Tracy Byrnes and regular FBN guest Jonathan Hoenig came up with a radical idea to solve America's national debt problem: Raise taxes on the poor!
Casone got things started with a "Fox News Alert" about a new Congressional Budget Office report about average federal tax rates in 2007. She was so put off by the fact that millions of Americans earn so little income that they earn more in tax credits than they owe in federal taxes -- meaning they pay no federal income tax -- that she put forth the following question to Hoenig:
CASONE: A new government report showing 40 percent of income tax filers are paying no income taxes at all, and are getting money back. And this has someone here saying enough is enough. You want America's debt mess cleaned up? It's time for all Americans to pay up.
So Jonathan, did we just find a way to solve America's debt crisis, do you think?
She was asking if "a way to solve America's debt crisis" is to increase the tax burden of the poorest Americans. Note that according to the CBO report she cited, the average pretax income of the lowest 20 percent of households in 2007 -- that's half of the 40 percent of income tax filers she wants to "pay up" -- was $18,400.
According to the 2007 poverty guidelines used by the Department of Health & Human Services, a family of four with an income of $20,650 is below the poverty line.
Yes, Casone is proposing to balance our national debt on the backs of those Americans living in poverty.
Hoenig shared her sense of outrage:
HOENIG: Well, I mean, Cheryl, 70 percent of the taxes are paid by such a small few -- 20 percent of filers, and as you pointed out, 40 percent of filers not only pay no taxes but actually get money back from the government. We need to not only stop the spending stuff -- the entitlements -- but get rid of this progressive Marxist notion, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, and spend now because, don't worry, some rich guys down the hill will pick up the tab for the rest of us. That's the philosophy that reigns and that's what needs to end.
Casone then continued pushing her idea to balance a national debt in the trillions of dollars on the backs of Americans suffering in poverty, saying, "The CBO report -- I mean, granted it's from 2007, but the fact that most Americans are not paying any income tax at the end of the day, kinda shows the imbalance. What if everybody pays just a little bit? We're out of debt in this country."
Guest Christian Dorsey of the Economic Policy Institute responded by pointing out that the impoverished people Casone and Hoenig were proposing to increase taxes on are "already paying taxes." Dorsey noted that even those who pay no federal income taxes pay "their local taxes as well as their state taxes," adding, "Just because they pay no federal income taxes doesn't mean they have no tax burden."
Hoenig responded by saying that the poor who have no federal income tax liability are "nowhere near as productive" as the rich, and complained that they were being given "freebies," while the "most productive people" were being "[torn] down." He went on to say that "to suggest somehow that rich people owe the rest of us, I think it's wrong."
Later, Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes declared that the Earned Income Tax Credit -- which the IRS describes as "a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families" -- is "what's unfair" about America's tax code.
Casone later asked Hoenig "what should we do to deal with the debt issue?" After ranting that spending needs to be "stop[ped]," he declared that taxes on the rich are "tyranny":
HOENIG: I think what needs to go is the notion that the rich owe everyone else, and they get rich on the backs of everybody else. It always seems that one of the president's ideas specifically targets, what, people making above $250,000 a year. Maybe that's going to be $200,000 or maybe $150,000. But as long as we have that notion that you don't have a right to the money that you earn in a free market, it's tyranny.
Byrnes shouted, again, "That Earned Income Tax Credit needs to go then too. You need to get rid of that Earned Income Tax Credit, then. You want to get rid of the stuff at the top? You get rid of the stuff at the bottom. That is the -- it is wrong. Nobody pays tax because of that."
Let's hope our lawmakers come up with a better way to deal with the national debt than sticking it to the poor.