Appearing last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick weighed in on the GOP's push for higher taxes on the poor, noting that it's "mean-spirited, insensitive, and may backfire." He argues that that while the number of Americans who don't pay income taxes has grown because of the recession, "this implication, which I think is a very deliberate one, that half of Americans are not paying taxes, is an outright lie."
Jeff notes that even among the 46 percent of Americans who are too poor to pay income tax, about two thirds are still paying regressive Social Security taxes. If Republicans are really worried about the deficit, Jeff argues that they should repeal the Bush tax cuts. He says that "if we just paid the tax rates of the Clinton years, when some people remember we had an economic boom, we would be okay and not talking about this budget balancing and not strapping government down and able to make the public investments and maintain the social programs we need." He also points out that the last decade offers proof that cutting taxes on the rich is not the key to economic growth.