In her Thursday column, the non-ironically titled "Celebrating the Joys Of April 15," Gail Collins wondered why Tea Party protesters weren't happier. After all, according a new study by the Tax Policy center, 47% of U.S. households (including many Tea Party protesters) didn't owe any income tax last year.
Collins found herself puzzled by that. But isn't it generally seen as a good thing to be fighting against one's own perceived best interests and for the greater good? Apparently Collins expects conservative protesters to selfishly guard their own perceived economic interests.
The Internal Revenue Service needs to get way better at marketing.
Somehow the government tax collectors have let the country get locked into the idea that April 15 is a day of sorrow and misery, the culmination of the dreaded filing of the income tax form.
But, in fact, most people who file get money back. (Cue the horns and balloons.)
And according to one much, much-quoted study by the Tax Policy Center, 47 percent of American households didn't have to pay one cent of income tax for 2009. (Marching bands, confetti.)
Thanks to the tax credits in President Obama's stimulus plan and other programs aimed at helping working families, couples with two kids making up to $50,000 were generally off the hook this year.
Naturally, anti-tax groups held rallies to thank the president for doing so much to reduce the burden on the half of the country least able to pay. Not.
Like economics writer David Leonhardt on Wednesday, Collins evidently can't conceive of a principled conservative movement. And she got at least one fact wrong:
According to the Gallup polls, 45 percent of Tea Party supporters have incomes under $50,000. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, Tea Party activists are virtually the only segment of the population in which a majority feels its tax burden is unfair. Clearly, these are not the kind of folks who would cancel their anti-tax rallies just on account of not being taxed.
"We're here to take our country back," said a former Missouri House speaker at a Tea Party rally at the State Capitol, where nobody appeared to be grateful for the good news about the bottom 47 percent at all.
Actually, the NYT/CBS poll shows that a majority (52%) of Tea Party members think their income tax burden is fair, compared to 42% who think it's unfair. That's n the same solar system as the rest of the population, where the figures are 62% fair - 30% unfair.
Collins kept celebrating the fact that half of U.S. households pay no income taxes on federal programs that (theoretically, anyway) benefit all, leaving them free to support expensive programs like Obama-care in the knowledge they won't be paying for them.