Mike Pilger | Monday, August 29, 2011
In a speech announcing his candidacy for President, Rick Perry bemoaned “the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.” Forgetting that everyone, regardless of income level, still pays state and local income, payroll and sales taxes, Perry characterized half of Americans as Exhibit A in his case against the welfare state. Should a family of four surviving on $26,400 or less annually get away without paying federal income taxes? Perry thinks we are witnesses to an injustice here.
Almost half of all households don’t make enough money to qualify for federal income taxes, but about two-thirds of that group still pay federal payroll taxes.
The Tax Policy Center estimates that only 18 percent of Americans pay neither federal payroll nor income taxes, and more than 90 percent of that group is either elderly or makes less than $20,000 a year. Given a tax code riddled with loopholes that overwhelmingly benefit rich or corporate persons, Perry focuses on the “injustice” of not more heavily taxing some of the oldest and poorest Americans. Talk about class warfare.
Perry loves to mention the jobs he created as Governor of Texas, and public sector jobs in his state have indeed grown by 6.4 percent since the beginning of the recession. Private sector jobs, however, have shrunk by 0.6 percent. The government now employs one in six Texans. Still, Perry, a model of disingenuousness, demonizes any effort to expand the role of government during an economic downturn, despite how his state benefited from $24 billion in stimulus money and a surge in government jobs.
An editorial by Harold Myerson in the Washington Post reported that Texas, where Perry has served as governor since 2000, leads the nation in minimum-wage jobs and adults without high school diplomas, and is tied with Mississippi for the fourth-worst poverty rate. Kaiser State Health Facts statistics show that 26 percent of Texans lack health insurance, the highest rate of any state. This is not a picture of successful governance.