Tax the Poor

February 6, 2011

I was sitting on the patio at Ninfa’s on Navigation last week enjoying a margarita and stuffing my face with the fabulous chips and salsa when it occurred to me how unrelentingly serious this blog has become in 2011. It was about 72° on the patio but those feisty Texans had the space heaters lit. Hey, it was dark at 8:30 in the evening, and you don’t sit around in the dark during the middle of the winter without some heat on. So I ordered some fajitas and a Shiner bock and paid for it with my credit card. I said to myself, “Self, you are Taxed Enough Already. How are you going to be able to fly down to Texas for fajitas and Shiner bock alfresco after the big budget crunch busts the Michigan budget?”

This was actually a rhetorical question because I was able to fly down to Texas this year because Texas A&M University wanted to tease out my thoughts on their shiny new genomics and society initiative. I had been Director of the Center for Biotechnology Policy and Ethics when I was on the faculty at Texas A&M in the 1990s, but the Aggies in their infinite wisdom and had decided to close the joint when I pulled up stakes for Purdue in 1997. So the invitation to go down and share my thoughts on their genomics and society initiative was not only a way to get some tasty fajitas and a cold Shiner bock in the dead of winter (not to mention seeing my daughter and her husband) but it was a fantastic chance to gloat as well. Being the gloating fool that I am, this was a chance I simply could not pass up, so I was right on that plane, carbon credits be damned.

But this really has very little do to the Michigan state budget, which will quite certainly affect all of us at Michigan State University for the worse over the coming year. Fortunately, I have come up with a plan that will get us out of this fix. And not just Michigan State University, but all of those Taxed Enough Already Michiganders who ride airplanes and pay for beer with their credit cards. I got the inspiration for this plan from the Democrat Party back in December. Remember back when they were so wrought up about “rescinding the Bush tax cuts”? The idea was that they would put taxes back up to the level they had been before a tax cut the Republicans had put in way back in 2001 and 2003. The GOP was not letting them get away with this for a second, insisting LOUDLY that this Democrat plan was a tax increase. Of course nobody in the U.S. Congress had the gall to pass a tax increase at Christmas, so rich folks needn’t worry ‘bout their taxes going up any time soon. And hey, I’m just as Taxed Enough Already as the next fellow.

But now it’s occurred to me that maybe the Democrat Party was on to something. If it’s NOT a tax increase when we simply put tax rates back where they were sometime in the distant past, us folks here in Michigan have a golden opportunity. We can raise a whole boatload of state revenue by “rescinding” that Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that Jennifer Granholm and a surprisingly bipartisan state legislature extended to people on the low end of the personal income ladder. What a break for those of us who are Taxed Enough Already! Apparently these slackers at the low end ARE NOT TAXED ENOUGH. And hey, just because these people are going to pay on average an extra $400 in taxes next year, this isn’t a tax increase ! We know that for a fact because the Republicans say that it isn’t a tax increase, and we can trust the Republicans to know a tax increase when they see one.

What a brilliant plan! We close the budget gap on the backs of some of our poorest working families, people who apparently don’t want or need to ride airplanes or pay for beer and fajitas on their credit card, AND we are able to keep the pledge to do so without raising taxes ! And although these people are not contributing to the Michigan economy like I do by ordering beer and fajitas down in Texas, let’s not have any of that standard party line jive about class warfare. We’re not trying to SCREW THE POOR. The people we are trying screw have jobs. The EITC is an earned income credit, after all.

So I know, I know, the food connection in this blog is pretty weak, but I think I did manage to mention beer and fajitas a number of times. And for those of you readers who are not locals, I must tell you that my brilliant idea is actually not original. There are people in Michigan state government who are considering this seriously.

So much for my feeble attempts at humor.

Paul B. Thompson does not qualify for the Michigan EITC

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4 thoughts on “Tax the Poor

  1. I think the food connection in this entry is quite strong. It was local beer you repeatedly referred to, after all. Also, don’t feel bad that your ‘brilliant idea’ is not original; there are no original ideas for a way to simultaneously cut the budget, not raise taxes and not cut (what some substantial minority considers) essential government programs — unless you’ve got some insight into logically possible contradictions, that is. It takes a lot of local beer even to imagine how something like this might get off the ground…

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