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Bamboozle of the day: “Over 50% Americans don’t pay income taxes”

August 22, 2011, 11:52 am | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

As Jon Stewart so expertly highlighted last week, conservatives have been eager to repeat the talking point that half of Americans don’t pay income taxes. But in addition to being mathematically inaccurate, this factoid distorts the real fiscal picture. Via Jonathan Weisman comes this chart from the Tax Policy Center detailing the rather significant details of why many Americans don’t pay income taxes:


This is why I feel comfortable saying this whole talking point is nothing more than a bamboozle. No candidate or pundit would come out and say “I think retirees, students and families making less that $20,000 a year all need to have their taxes raised” or “it’s a moral imperative to decrease the income tax standard deduction and credits for children,” but if conservatives are really outraged by taxpayers not having enough “skin in the game,” those are the kinds of policies they’d have to support. So, in order to have an honest debate, conservatives should either A) drop this message, or B) show the courage of their convictions by owning up to the kinds of policy changes their rhetoric requires.

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